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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019 3:03 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
2.3 - California & 3.3 - 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 1/28 thru Sun 2/3

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   

Moderate Storm in WPac
Weaker Storm Track to Follow

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Monday, January 28, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.6 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 12.4 secs from 301 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.8 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 9.9 secs from 46 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.2 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 14.0 secs from 234 degrees. Wind at the buoy was south at 4-6 kts. Water temperature 60.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.2 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.6 ft @ 14.6 secs from 272 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.3 ft @ 12.6 secs from 243 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.4 ft @ 14.9 secs from 275 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.8 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 4.6 ft @ 13.4 secs from 291 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 10-12 kts. Water temp 56.1 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 Monday (1/28) in North and Central CA surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and lined up and clean and lined up with no wind. Protected breaks were waist to chest high and clean and lined up but soft. At Santa Cruz surf was chest high on the sets and clean and lined up and fairly consistent. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh to waist high and clean and lined up and peeling when it came. In North Orange Co surf was occasionally waist high plus and clean and lined up but soft. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were thigh high on the sets and clean but weak. North San Diego surf was thigh high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves head high and lumpy and warbled if not chopped with northerly winds in control. The South Shore was knee high and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell with waves 1 ft overhead and chopped from northeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Monday (1/28) Dateline swell was still present but fading in California with localized northerly windswell hitting Hawaii. A small gale tracked from off Japan to the dateline on Fri (1/26) producing 32 ft seas aimed east with swell pushing towards Hawaii arriving later Mon (1/28). Another stronger system is developing off Japan tracking northeast on Sun (1/27) with 41 ft seas aimed east initially then moving to the north dateline region Mon (1/28) with up to 45 ft seas aimed east. And another small system is to track off Japan Tues-Wed (1/30) with 28 ft seas then fading on the dateline on Thurs (1/31). All these systems to be generally small in coverage. After that the storm track is to fade with no noteworthy gales forecast. We're theoretically in the Active Phase of the MJO now and so the storm track should react positively, but there's no clear sign of that happening yet.

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 Monday AM (1/28) the jetstream remained consolidated tracking east off Japan reaching south to the 30N latitude line forming a weak trough mid-day to the dateline being fed by 160-170 kts winds then ridging slightly as it passed over the dateline before splitting with most energy falling south over Hawaii and towards the equator with very limited diffuse energy tracking northeast from the split point up into Alaska and British Columbia. The split point was at 155W. Over the next 72 hours the trough west of the dateline is to fade late Mon (1/28) then be replaced by a new more pronounced trough in the same area Tues PM (1/29) being fed by 180 kts winds pushing off Japan and offering good support for gale development there into Thurs AM (1/31). The jet is to remain split with the split point at 160W with the the northern branch east of that point pushing up over the Eastern Aleutians then falling south into a small trough in the Northern Gulf falling southeast. Beyond 72 hours the trough west of the dateline is to lift northeast and fade over the northern dateline late Thurs PM (1/31) while yet another trough tries to develop mid-way between Japan and the dateline on Fri-Sat (2/2) with winds in the jet building to 190 kts and the trough offering some support for gale development. At the same time the weak trough in the Northern Gulf is to fall southeast moving over Central CA Fri PM (2/1) offering some hope for weather there. And a secondary trough is to develop and take a similar track on Sat-Sun (2/3) moving over North CA. The split point is to ease east to 155W. On Sun (2/3) the jet is to be consolidated pushing east off Japan with winds 160 kts over Japan but fading east of there and barely 140 kts over the dateline in one pocket and no defined troughs indicated. The jet is to split at 155W with the northern branch pushing northeast and impacting the coast over Northern Canada then falling down the US West Coast while the southern branch falls southeast just east of Hawaii moving towards the equator, then turning east and merging with the northern branch pushing inland over the area from Central CA down to Mid-Baja Mexico. More of the same is forecast into Tues (2/5) but with winds energy building off Japan at 170 kts pushing almost to the dateline but with no troughs indicated. The Active Phase of the MJO is to be building over the West Pacific but it's begriming to looks like it will not be strong enough to impart significant energy into the jet, at least initially. Gale development potential to remain suppressed.

Surface Analysis
On Monday (1/28) secondary swell from a gale west of the dateline was fading in Hawaii and poised to rebuild some in California (see Dateline Gale below). Also swell from anther gale in the West Pacific was pushing towards Hawaii and California (see Another West Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours yet another and stronger gale is to be tracking through the West Pacific (see Stronger West Pacific Storm below).

 

Dateline Gale
A gale started building off North Japan on Sat PM (1/19) producing 45-50 kt northwest winds over a moderate area with seas 34 ft at 41N 160E targeting Hawaii well. By Sun AM (1/20) the gale was fading fast with 35 northwest winds over a decent sized area and seas fading from 33 ft at 38N 167E. By evening this system was gone with seas from previous fetch fading from 26 ft at 38N 177E aimed east.

Mon AM (1/21) secondary winds energy was building mid-way between japan and the dateline with 40 kt west winds and seas building from 27 ft at 37N 166E. In the evening 45 kt west winds to push to the dateline with 33 ft seas at 37.5N 179W aimed east. On Tues AM (1/22) the gale was fading while lifting northeast with 35-40 kt west winds and seas fading from 31 ft at 38.5N 170W. This system dissipated from there.

North CA: Swell fading Mon (1/28) at 4.6 ft @ 14 secs (6.0-6.5 ft). Dribbles on Tues (1/29) 3.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 290 degrees

 

Another West Pacific Gale
Another small gale started building off Japan on Thurs PM (1/24) with 40 kt northwest winds and seas building to 29 ft at 37.5N 157E aimed east. 40 kt west winds migrated east-northeast on Fri AM (1/25) with 31 ft seas at 39N 165.5E targeting Hawaii well. In the evening the gale was lifting northeast while fading with west winds 35-40 kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 40N 174.5E aimed east. The gale dissipated from there with 30 kt west winds south of the Aleutians Sat AM (1/26) with 27 ft seas fading at 42.5N 179.5W aimed east.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon AM (1/28) with period to 17 secs peaking late afternoon at 4.8 ft @ 16 secs (7.5 ft). Swell to be fading Tues AM (1/29) from 3.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (5.5 ft). Swell dissipating late afternoon. Swell Direction: 312 degrees.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (1/30) building to 3.9 ft @ 16 secs (6.0 ft) late afternoon. Swell fading on Thurs AM (1/31) from 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (6.0 ft). Dribbles on Fri AM (2/1) fading from 3.2 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0 ft). Swell DIrection: 292 degrees

 

Stronger West Pacific Storm
Another southward displaced storm developed off Japan on Sun AM (1/27) with 50-55 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas 41 ft at 34.5N 159.5E aimed east. In the evening the storm was building while lifting northeast with 50 kt northwest winds increasing in coverage approaching the dateline with seas 40 ft at 36.5N 167.5E aimed east. The storm lifted northeast over the dateline Mon AM (1/28) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas rebuilding from 40 ft at 41.5N 171E aimed east. In the evening this system held position approaching the the dateline producing 45 kt northwest winds south of the Aleutians with seas building to 45 ft at 18Z at 34.5N 172E aimed east then down to 43 ft in the evening at 44N 175.5E. Fetch to be fading Tues AM (1/29) from 40 kts with seas fading from 36 ft over a small area embedded in a broad area of 30+ ft seas at 44.5N 176.5E aimed east. In the evening the gale to dissipate with west winds fading from 35 kts and seas 31 ft at 46.5N 180W aimed east. Solid swell to be radiating southeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: For planning purposes swell arrival is expected starting Wed (1/30) late afternoon building to 4.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (7.5 ft). Swell holding overnight and steady on Thurs AM (1/31) at 5.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (8.5 ft). Swell fading on Fri AM (2/1) from 4.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.0-7.5 ft). Dribbles on Sat (2/2) fading from 2.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Fri (2/1) building to 5.6 ft @ 18-19 secs late (10 ft). Swell steady on Sat (2/2) at6.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (10 ft) but being overrun by local north windswell. Swell Direction: 290-298 degrees

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (1/28) weak high pressure was off the North CA coast producing calm to light offshore winds early along the entire CA coast. A weak northwest flow is forecast at 5-10 kts in the afternoon and up to 15 kts near Point Conception. More of the same on Tues (1/29) with north winds 5-10 kts along the North and Central CA coast but up to 15 kts more consolidated near Point Conception in the afternoon. Maybe some stray snow showers for the Sierra in the afternoon. More of the same Wed-Thurs (1/31) but with southwest winds 10-15 kts for North CA sweeping down to Central CA on Wednesday associated with low pressure pushing down the outer coast. Moderate rain for the immediate coast of North and Central CA on Wed PM into Thurs AM (1/31) and sweeping into Southern CA during the day Thursday. Light to modest snow possible mainly for the Southern Sierra during the day Thursday. Friday (2/1) a local low pressure system is to set up off the Pacific Northwest coast falling south with south winds for North CA to 20 kts and 10 kts down to Pt Conception early Big Sur late AM with a new high pressure system building right behind it and pushing into the North and Central CA coast late afternoon with north winds 20+ kts. Rain Fri AM (2/1) for North CA early building to 25 kts mid-day and south winds 20 kts down to Santa Barbara late afternoon and 10 kts to San Diego. Rain for North CA early building south to San Diego late AM and continuing solid all day into the evening and solid into Southern CA late evening. Light snow for higher elevations of the Sierra Friday late AM building into the evening and building more overnight. Low pressure is to hold over Cape Mendocino Sat AM (2/2) with west winds 15 kts for the entire CA coast early continuing through sunset and building to 20-25 kts for Central CA at sunset as the low moves fully onshore there. Steady scattered rain for the entire CA coast through the day into the evening. Heavy snow for the Sierra early then fading but still snowing through the day into early evening. Sun (2/3) secondary low pressure is to be moving over North CA early with west to northwest winds 15 kts building to 20-25 kts midday over Central CA then northwest 15 kts late afternoon for North and Central CA. Light rain for all of CA through the day into early evening. Snow redeveloping for the entire Sierra Sun AM and holding decently into the early evening. Monday (3/4) a weak offshore flow is to set up North and Central CA and northwesterly 10 kts for Southern CA early. Low odds for light rain for all of CA early fading but continuing for Southern CA through the day. Light snow for mainly Tahoe early and building south to the Southern Sierra through the day.

Total snow accumulation for for the week for Lake Tahoe (thru 2/4): 25-38 inches and 29 inches for Mammoth.

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

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest 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 another small gale is to start building off Japan on Tues AM (1/29) tracking east with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 35N 145E aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to track southeast with 40 kt north winds and seas 30 ft at 32N 156E aimed southeast. The storm is to fade Wed AM (1/30) with 35+ kt northwest winds and seas 29 ft near 30N 162E aimed southeast at Hawaii. In the evening the gale is to lift northeast with 30+ kt northwest winds and seas 26 ft at 33N 165E aimed southeast. The gale to start dissipating from there with 35 kt west winds Thurs AM (1/31) with seas 20-24 ft over a broad area at 38N 174E aimed east. The gael to fade from there. Something to monitor.

And yet another ill formed gale is to form off the Kuril Islands Fri-Sun (2/3) with 30-35 kt west winds and seas 20-24 ft over a large area aimed east at 43N 160E.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Active MJO Building - SSTs Falling - Atmospheric Indices Neutral

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued 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. As of January 2019, those warm waters were fading.

LONG-RANGE PACIFIC STORM AND SWELL GENERATION POTENTIAL FORECAST
Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.0 (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: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (1/27) 5 day average winds were from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then a little weaker mainly over the Southern KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific and neutral to light westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (1/28) moderate west anomalies were filling the KWGA reaching east to Hawaii. The forecast is for the that wind pattern to remain unchanged for the next week or with west anomalies weakening just a bit in the extreme West Pacific. Support for storm development to be moderate and building in the West Pacific and reaching into the East Pacific.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/27) The Active Phase of the MJO was moderate and filling the KWGA. The statistic model indicates the Active Phase is to hold at moderate strength in the KWGA while slowly easing east centered over the dateline at day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Active Phase still centered in the central KWGA at day 15 and building in strength to moderate levels.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (1/28) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was modest over the West Pacific. It is to move east while fading in strength and very weak at day 6 stalled in the West Pacific. The GEFS model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase rebuilding in the West Pacific at days 8-15 and pretty strong at that time period.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/28) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the East Pacific weakening and pushing east moving into and over Central America on 2/12. A moderate Inactive signal is to set up in the West Pacific on 2/9 moving to the East Pacific and Central America on 3/9. A weak Active Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 3/2 pushing east to the dateline on 3/9.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/27) This model depicts moderate plus strength west anomalies were over the KWGA reaching east to 130W with no east anomalies indicated. West anomalies are to hold for the foreseeable future from now forward in the KWGA and building into the California coast starting 2/10 through the end of the model run on 2/24.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/28) This model depicts a weak version of the Active Phase building in the KWGA with modest west anomalies building in the KWGA. This pattern is to hold if not build in coverage through 2/14. On 2/12 a modest Inactive MJO signal is to start developing in the West Pacific and filling the KWGA through 3/28 but with spotty west anomalies continuing in that area if not building in a pocket in the KWGA 2/18-3/1. On 3/30 a strong Active Phase of the MJO is to start building in the KWGA with west anomalies in control and holding through the end of the model run on 4/27. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east over California and forecast holding over California through 2/28, then retracting some. A third contour line faded 12/17 and is to briefly rebuild on 2/20-3/25 then dissipating again. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control and is to continue, but far weaker. Theoretically the atmosphere and ocean were at one time trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence that it every happened. Still this pattern is more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere is still turning from a La Nina pattern (that has been entrenched for the past 2 years) at a minimum towards a neutral one. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, or perhaps slightly enhanced, but nothing more.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (1/28) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and retrograding (after previously reaching east to 175W on 12/11) reaching east today to 176E. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W, but retrograded and is back at 165W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific at +1 degs or greater with a pocket of warm water building under the dateline at +3 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) and the remnants of Kevin Wave #2 pushing east in the far East Pacific from 125W and points east at barely 2 degs. We were thinking the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred associated with Kelvin Wave #2, but upwelling over Ecuador looks poised to continue nonstop for the next 3+ months with the development of Kelvin Wave #3. So there's good surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy through the entirety of the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/23 indicates Kelvin Wave #2 fading in the East Pacific with pockets of 3 degs from 130W into Ecuador and with +3 deg anomalies building in the west from New Guinea to the dateline (Kelvin Wave #3 attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst occurring there 12/30-1/16). +1-2 degs anomalies connect the 2 Kelvin Waves making a river of warm water traversing the width of the equatorial Pacific. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (1/23) Positive anomalies were from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east into Ecuador at mostly 0-5 cms but with a pocket of +10 cms anomalies over the dateline and +5 cm anomalies starting to fade near 120W. -5 cms anomalies were in a small pocket at 90W associated with the upwelling phase of the MJO. A new weak Kelvin Wave is building north of New Guinea while a previous warm subsurface pattern is fading over the east equatorial Pacific.

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: (1/27) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were very weakly warm straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from the dateline west to Ecuador but still losing warmth compared to days and weeks past. Warm water that was previously fading along the coast of Chile and Peru up into Ecuador was steady today. Weak generic warming was off Central America and Mexico and fading some today in coverage and intensity. There is no indications that an El Nino is building and it appears a warm pulse previously underway in the East Pacific was continuing to fade today. A concerning pocket of cool waters elongated east to west off Peru to 130W is holding unchanged. Overall the pattern looks very weakly like El Nino, but nothing more. In all this warming pattern is weak and becoming more fragile by the day.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/27): A building area of warm water was off Peru and a small pocket of building warming was developing along the equator between the Galapagos and Ecuador. It looks like the far equatorial East Pacific is warming some.
Hi-res Overview: (1/27) Weak warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. Weak warming was also on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos continuing out to the dateline. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime. And one could maybe think we are moving towards an El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion because the warm signal on the surface should be much stronger at this time of the year if El Nino were truly developing. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern biased warm and likely not every moving to an official minimal El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (1/28) Today's temps were falling at -0.147 after rising to a peak +1.385 on 1/21. Previously there were down to -0.44 on 12/25, and that after having risen to +1.265 on 12/20. Previously temps fell to +0.212 on 12/3, after having previously built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(1/28) Today temps were increasing at +0.545 after rising to a peak at +0.738 on 1/21, after being at +0.487 on 1/7 and after previously risen to +1.050 degs on 12/6 and previously in the +0.5-+0.6 range since 11/12. The all time high for this event was +1.45 on 11/5, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (1/28) The model indicates temps were at +0.65 degs on Jan 1 and are forecast building to +1.00 on Feb1 and stable for the foreseeable future if not rising to +1.25 degs in June holding till Oct 1. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19 and even stronger in Winter of 2019/20. But given all the data we've seen, we believe there no odds of El Nino developing this year. But maybe a multiyear warming event is in progress as suggested by this model.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +1.00 degs in November and +1.0-+1.1 degs through Feb 2019, then slowly fading to 0.71 in July. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (1/28): The daily index was rising today at +2.55. The 30 day average was falling at -2.32 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was falling some at +2.63, rising through Jan1 to +4.67 then fading some after that but not much. There is no indication that El Nino is present in the atmosphere.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (1/28) The index rose to +0.30 on 1/20, but has been falling recently to +0.04 today, up from -0.24 in late December, down from +0.28 on 12/15 and not anywhere near as strongly positive as it should be if El Nino were developing. It suggest only ENSO neutral conditions.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.42, Sept -0.42. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 

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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


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