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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2019 6:26 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   

Steady Supply of Moderate WPac Swell Coming
Stronger Storm Forecast Longterm

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Wednesday, January 30, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 0.8 ft @ 20.4 secs from 307 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 10.4 ft @ 9.9 secs with swell 7.7 ft @ 10.1 secs from 28 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 12.9 secs from 252 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southwest at 2-4 kts. Water temperature 60.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.2 ft @ 10.8 secs from 267 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.4 ft @ 12.6 secs from 266 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.1 secs from 243 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.1 ft @ 13.0 secs from 263 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 2.8 ft @ 16.3 secs from 293 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was southeast at 2-6 kts. Water temp 56.5 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).
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 Wednesday (1/30) in North and Central CA surf was chest to head high and reasonably lined up and clean but soft and a bit inconsistent. Protected breaks were waist high and clean and lined up but soft and inconsistent. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high on the sets and clean and weak. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh high and clean but weak. In North Orange Co surf was waist high on the sets and clean and lined up but soft and inconsistent. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean and weak with some south texture on it. North San Diego surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean and weak. Hawaii's North Shore was still blown out with northeast windswell producing waves in the chest to head high range and lumpy and warbled and chopped with northerly winds in control. The South Shore was knee to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northerly windswell with waves 3 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 Wednesday (1/30) no real swell other than local windswell was hitting Hawaii. But small West Pacific swell was starting to show on the buoys in North CA from a small gale that tracked from off Japan to the dateline on Fri (1/26) producing 32 ft seas aimed east. A stronger system developed 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 was tracking off Japan Tues-Wed (1/30) with 28-32 ft seas expected to fade 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 until later Mon (2/4) when a storm is to build off the Kuril Islands tracking northeast with seas to 48 ft aimed east. We're theoretically moving in the Active Phase of the MJO and so the storm track is expected to react positively.

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 Wednesday AM (1/30) the jetstream was consolidated tracking off Japan with winds 180 kts falling into a developing trough with it's apex south at 30N 165E offering good support for gale development. From there the jet ridged northeast some on the dateline but still consolidated before splitting in the Western Gulf near 160W with most energy in the northern branch tracking northeast into Canada with the rest falling southeast towards the equator and Baja. Over the next 72 hours the trough west of the dateline is to hold into Thurs (1/31) and then wash out. At that time the northern branch of the jet over the Gulf is to be pushing up over the Eastern Aleutians then falling south into a small trough in the Northern Gulf falling southeast and moving over north California on Sat (2/2) producing only weather there with a secondary trough following a similar track there into Sun (2/3). Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (2/3) the jet is to weaken some in the west with winds 130-140 kts reaching from Japan barely to the dateline and only weak indications of support for a trough and gale development. The split point in the east is to retrograde to the dateline as a result of the weakening wind situation. By late Tues (2/5) into Wed (2/6) wind energy is to start building over Japan and to the dateline at 170-190 kts starting to carve out a new trough off the Kuril Islands possibly supporting gale development. Perhaps this will be the start of the Active Phase of the MJO positively influencing the jetstream.

Surface Analysis
On Wednesday (1/30) swell from another gale previously in the West Pacific was pushing towards California (see Another West Pacific Gale below). Also swell from a stronger gale was tracking through the West Pacific (see Stronger West Pacific Storm below).

Over the next 72 hours yet another small gale started building off Japan on Tues AM (1/29) tracking east with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas 24 ft at 35N 149E aimed southeast. In the evening the gale tracked southeast with 40 kt north winds and seas 30 ft at 34N 156E aimed southeast. The storm faded Wed AM (1/30) with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft near 35N 162E aimed southeast at Hawaii. In the evening the gale is to lift northeast with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 27-28 ft at 38N 175E aimed southeast. The gale to start dissipating while lifting north fast from there with 40 kt west winds Thurs AM (1/31) with seas 24-30 ft just south of the Aleutians at 47N 173E aimed east. The gale to fade from there. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell arrival late on Sat (2/2) with swell building to 4.1 ft @ 17 secs (7.0 ft). Swell fading Sun (2/3) from 4.0 ft @ 15 secs (6.0 ft) early. Residuals on Mon (2/4) fading from 3.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 307 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival late Mon (2/4) building to 2.8 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft) and buried in local windswell. Swell continues on Tues (2/5) at 5.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.0 ft) and still intermixed with local windswell. Swell Direction: 288 degrees

 

And yet another fast moving system is to push off Japan tracking northeast on Fri AM (2/1) with 50 kt west winds and seas 35 ft over a small area at 39N 167E aimed east. Fetch is to lift northeast fast in the evening at 45-50 kts with 35 ft seas at 49N 178E aimed mostly northeast with little energy radiating east. But secondary winds energy is to be building from the west off streaming off the Kuril Islands with 29-30 ft seas building at 41N 160E aimed east. On Sat AM (2/2) west fetch to hold at 30-35 kts over a broad area off the Kuril Islands with 28-32 ft seas at 45N 168E aimed east. In the evening winds to fade from 30+ kts and seas fading from 24-28 ft at 45N 170E aimed east. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Mon (2/4) building to 3.1 ft @ 16 secs late (5.0 ft). Swell fading Tues (2/5) from 3.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5 ft) early. Secondary energy building in late at 3.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (5.5 ft). Swell steady on Wed (2/6) at 4.8 ft @ 15 secs early (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 310 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.

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 170E 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 44 ft at 18Z at 44N 172.5E aimed east then down to 42 ft in the evening at 44.5N 175.5E. Fetch to be fading Tues AM (1/29) from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 35 ft over a small area embedded in a broad area of 30+ ft seas at 44N 175.5E aimed east. In the evening the gale to dissipate with west winds fading from 30-35 kts and seas 28 ft at 45N 179W aimed east. Solid swell to be radiating southeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival starting Wed (1/30) late afternoon building to 4.7 ft @ 17 secs (8.0 ft). Swell holding overnight and steady on Thurs AM (1/31) at 6.0 ft @ 17 secs (10.0 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 2.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (2/1) building to 5.3 ft @ 18 secs late (9.5 ft). Swell steady on Sat (2/2) at 5.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (9.5 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 Wednesday AM (1/30) weak low pressure was a bit off the North CA coast producing weak south winds along the coast there and northwest winds 5-10 kts down into Central CA. Light rain is expected along the coast of North and Central CA late evening into Thurs AM (1/31) and sweeping into Southern CA during the day Thursday. Light snow possible mainly for the extreme Southern Sierra during the day Thursday. Winds northwest 5-10 kts during the day for all of CA. Friday (2/1) a more robust double barrelled local low pressure system is to set up off the Pacific Northwest and off Central CA with south winds for North and Central CA 15-20 kts early building to 30+ kts late afternoon pushing 40+ kts into the evening. Light south winds 5-10 kts for Southern CA later in the day. Light rain Fri AM (2/1) for North CA building south to Pt Conception late evening with heavy rain arriving along the coast then for North CA. Light snow for higher elevations of the Sierra Friday late evening. Solid low pressure is to hold off Pt Arena Sat AM (2/2) with west to southwest 30 kts for Monterey Bay north to Pt Arena and southwest winds 15-20 kt south to Santa Barbara County with east winds north of Pt Arena 20 kts. Winds west 15 kts for the entire state at sunset. Solid rain early for North and Central CA and light rain into Southern CA and steady through the day but building into Southern CA. Heavy snow for the entire Sierra et 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 through the day, fading some in the late afternoon into the evening. Sun (2/3) secondary low pressure is to be moving south off the Pacific Northwest early moving to North CA later with west winds 15 kts for San Francisco northward early and building south to Monterey Bay later. Light rain for Central CA building to moderate rain late afternoon for North CA. Light snow for the entire Sierra Sun AM fading south but rebuilding to modest amounts late afternoon and moderate for Tahoe in the evening. Monday (3/4) low pressure is to be moving onshore over the Pacific Northwest with high pressure offshore with north winds 20+ kts for all of North or Central CA and light winds early for Southern CA building to northwest at 15 kts later. Light rain for all of CA slowly tapering through the day. Moderate snow for all the Sierra early moderating through the day and gone late evening. Tuesday (4/5) high pressure takes control with north winds 15-20 kts all day for North and Central CA but lighter for Southern CA. No precip forecast. Wednesday (2/6) a light northeast flow to set up as the day progresses for all of CA. No precip forecast.

Total snow accumulation for for the week for Lake Tahoe (thru 2/4): 38-45 inches and 27 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 a stronger and more organized storm is to form just off the Kuril Islands Mon PM (2/4) with 55 kt west winds and seas building from 44 ft at 44N 156E aimed east. On Tues AM (2/5) the storm is to track east with 50 kts west winds and seas 49 ft at 46N 164E aimed east. In the evening the storm is to track eat with 50 kt west winds and seas 47 ft over a solid area aimed east at 47.5N 169E. The storm is to drop to gale status Wed AM (2/6) with 40 kt west winds over a solid area just south of the Aleutians and 44 ft seas at 49N 175E aimed east. The gale is to fade from there.

 

South Pacific

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

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Active MJO Building - SSTs Building along Peru - 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 over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific turning westerly from a point south of Hawaii and moreso over the entirety of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (1/30) moderate west anomalies were filling the KWGA and a little strong reaching east to Hawaii. The forecast is for the that wind pattern to remain unchanged for the next week but with west anomalies weakening to neutral in the extreme West Pacific and south of HAwaii. Support for storm development to be moderate and building in the West Pacific and reaching into the East Pacific for the next 3-4 days then backing of some.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/29) 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 just a bit east of 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): (1/30) 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 4 stalled in the West Pacific. The GEFS model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase retrograding and rebuilding in the West Pacific at days 10-15 and moderately strong at that time.
40 day Upper Level Model: (1/30) This model depicts a weak Active Phase over the East Pacific weakening and pushing east moving into and over Central America on 2/19. A modest Inactive signal is to set up in the West Pacific on 2/14 moving to the East Pacific and Central America on 3/11. A weak very weak Active Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 3/2 pushing east to the dateline on 3/11.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/29) 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 2/14 through the end of the model run on 2/26.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/30) This model depicts a weak version of the Active Phase developing in the KWGA with modest west anomalies building in the KWGA. This pattern is to hold while easing east through 2/23 with west anomalies building solidly 2/15-2/23. On 2/15 a modest Inactive MJO signal is to start developing in the West Pacific and filling east filling the KWGA 2/25 through 3/27 but with spotty west anomalies continuing in that area. On 3/30 a moderate 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 4/29. 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 to the coast. A third contour line faded 12/17 and is to briefly rebuild on 2/16-4/8 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: (1/30) 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 163W 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). The remnants of Kevin Wave #2 have just about fully erupted in the far East Pacific with temps there only +1 degs. We think the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred associated mainly with Kelvin Wave #2. But Kelvin Wave #3 might add some warmth moving into 2019. So there's good surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy for the foreseeable future. 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 to a point west of the Galapagos (110W) at mostly 0-5 cms but with a pocket of +10 cms anomalies over the dateline and +5 cm anomalies fading 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: (1/29) 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 the Galapagos and still losing warmth compared to days and weeks past. Warm water was building strongly along the coast of Chile and Peru up into Ecuador and Central America. 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 (1/29): A building area of warm water was off Chile and 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: (1/29) 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: (1/30) Today's temps were rising some at +0.222 after falling to -0.15 degs on 2/28. Temps rose to a peak +1.385 on 1/21. Previously they 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:
(1/30) Today temps were steady at +0.559 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 (1/30) The model indicates temps were at +0.65 degs on Jan 1 and are forecast building to +1.00 on Feb 1 and stable for the foreseeable future if not rising to +1.20 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) (1/30): The daily index was rising today at +3.02. The 30 day average was steady at -2.31 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was falling some at +2.47, 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): (1/30) The index rose to +0.30 on 1/20, but has been falling recently to -0.07 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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