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.
Monday, February 22, 2016
- Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 22.8 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 15.1 ft @ 17.1 secs from 324 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 10.1 secs from 275 degrees. Wind north-northeast 12-14 kts. Water temperature 60.8 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.0 ft @ 12.8 secs from 264 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.7 ft @ 11.4 secs from 280 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.3 ft @ 13.0 secs from 277 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.6 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 6.1 ft @ 13.1 secs from 283 degrees. Wind north 12-16 kts. Water temp 56.5 degs.
Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys
On Monday (2/22) in North and Central CA waves were 1-2 ft overhead and nearly chopped from northwest wind. Protected breaks were shoulder to head high and cleaner. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high on the sets and clean but a little wonky from tide. In Southern California up north surf was waist high and clean but pretty weak. Minimally rideable. Down south north swell was producing waves at shoulder high on the sets and clean but confined pretty close to the beach. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Swell #10 with occasional large sets in the 20+ ft Hawaiian range and closing out big wave breaks on occasion but pretty raw and jumbled with Kona winds in control. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wraparound swell making for 20 ft faces and cleaner conditions at select breaks.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Storm #10 peaked out late Sunday afternoon (2/21) and has generated large swell currently hitting Hawaii, but raw. This storm is currently curving northeast focusing some energy at California. Also Storm #11 was starting to develop well west of the dateline and forecast to peak on the dateline Monday evening with seas in the 52 ft range while falling southeast towards Hawaii, but also aimed reasonably well at the US West Coast through Wed (2/24). And yet another storm is forecast on the dateline on Sun (2/28) with 52 ft seas again targeting the Islands and the US West Coast. We are on a roll thanks to the Active Phase of the MJO.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Monday AM (2/22) the jet was weakly consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds to 160 kts in one thin strand embedded on the broader flow, with a trough starting to develop just west of the dateline then falling into a steeper trough north of Hawaii but with winds only 120 kts feeding it, before .cgiitting at 143W with the northern branch pushing up into Washington and the southern branch tracking over Southern CA. There was support for gale development in both troughs. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to quickly dissipate while the new dateline trough slowly builds, moving to the Western Gulf by Wed AM (2/24) with winds up to 180 kts west of the dateline and the whole organization dramatically improving and becoming much more consolidated. great support for storm development indicated and improving into Thursday as winds to build to 190 kts on the dateline. Beyond 72 hours 180-190 kt winds to continue on the the dateline pushing flat east with some flavor of a trough continuing in the Gulf of Alaska through Sun (2/28) offering great support for gale if not storm development. The .cgiit point is to hold just off the California coast near 130W on Sunday.
On Monday (2/22) swell from Storm #10 was hitting Hawaii (see details in Storm #10 below). A new storm was developing west of the dateline (see Storm #11 below).
Over the next 72 hours another strong storm (Storm #11) was developing west of the dateline Mon AM (2/22) (see details below - Storm #11).
A secondary fetch from a previous gale over the North Dateline region developed northwest of the Islands on Sat PM (2/20) producing a small area of 40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 26 ft over a small area at 35N 178W. On Sun AM (2/21) this fetch began building with 55 kt north-northwest winds targeting Hawaii well generating 34 ft seas at 33N 168W (320 degs HI). the Jason-2 satellite passed over the west quadrant of this system and reported seas of 28.8 ft with one reading to 33.1 ft where the model suggested 30 ft seas. The model was on track. Winds built to 60 kts in the evening with seas to 46 ft at 32N 160W just 700 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii (350 degs HI, 268 NCal, 280 degs SCal). Fetch was fading from 45 kts Mon AM (2/22) and tracking east rather than southeast with seas 42 ft at 34N 153W mostly bypassing Hawaii and targeting Baja up into Southern CA (269 degs NCal, 280 degs SCal). In the evening fetch is to fade from 40 kts still aimed due east with seas 37 ft at 36N 148W targeting Central CA down into Baja well (275 degs NCal, 286 degs SCal). Fetch is to be all but gone Tues AM (2/23) dropping from 30 kts with seas fading from 30 ft at 38N 142W (280 degs NCal, 290 degs SCal). The gale to dissipate from there. Solid raw swell expected for Hawaii with lesser size and less direct energy for California.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon AM (2/22) just before sunrise and size building fast, peaking near 9 AM local time at 15.6 ft @ 17 secs (26.5 ft Hawaiian) and size very raw and jumbled. Swell fading as sunset from 13.8 ft @ 16 secs (22 ft Hawaiian). Swell fading fast Tues AM (2/23) from 8 ft @ 14-15 secs (11.5 ft Hawaiian) dropping to 4.5 ft @ 13-14 secs at sunset (6 ft). Swell Direction: 330 degrees
The Waimea Bay buoy peaked at 17Z Mon (7 AM local time) with pure swell 22.4 ft @ 17.2 secs (38.6 ft Hawaiian).
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (2/24) building to 10.6-11.2 ft @ 17-18 secs (18-20 ft). Swell fading Thurs (2/25) from 8.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (12 ft). Swell Direction: 268-270 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (2/24) at 4 PM with period 20 secs and size small but building. Swell to peak starting at 8 PM holding through 3 AM Thurs (2/25) with pure swell 5.0-5.5 ft @ 17-18 secs (8.5-10.0 ft). Swell Direction: 278-280 degrees. At sunrise Thursday swell still 5.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (8.0-8.5 ft), fading slowly through the day. Residuals on Fri AM (2/26) fading from 3.8 ft @ 14 secs (5 ft). Swell Direction: 278-280 degrees
Another strong storm was developing west of the dateline Mon AM (2/22) with 50 kt west-northwest winds and seas building from 42 ft at 44N 167E aimed east. 55 kt west-northwest winds to continue tracking east approaching the dateline in the evening with 47 ft seas at 43N 176E. Fetch to fade some Tues AM (2/23) at 50 kts on the dateline but more from the northwest now with seas 49 ft at 41N 179W targeting a bit east of Hawaii and more at the US West Coast. Fetch to fade slowly from the northwest at 45 kts in the evening with seas 46 ft at 40N 171W. On Wed AM (2/24) a small area of 40-45 kt northwest winds to continue dropping towards the Islands generating 41 ft seas at 37N 165W. In the evening fetch to fade from 35 kts still falling southeast with seas 35 ft over a broad area at 34N 158W targeting the Islands but also the US West Coast. The gale to dissipate from there Thurs AM (2/25) and seas fading from 29 ft at at 32N 152W targeting North Baja. Something to monitor.
Hawaii: For.cgianning purposes swell arrival expected 2 AM Thurs (2/25) with period 20 secs and size building fast. Swell to start peaking at 8 AM local time as period hits 18 secs holding well through the day as period drops towards 17 secs. Pure swell 12.2-12.7 ft @ 17-18 secs (20.7-22.9 ft Hawaiian) with sets to 15.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (26.8 ft Hawaiian). Swell Direction: 321-335 degrees Wind east-northeast 8 kts early building to 10 kts late AM.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (2/22) a modest north winds pattern was in control of North and Central California waters driven by high pressure moving onshore and centered over South Oregon. By Tuesday AM the high is to evaporate with much low pressure filling the Gulf and a front stalled out at 130W or 400 nmiles off the Central Coast. Light winds are forecast for the entire coast Tues-Sat (2/27) with the jet .cgiit aloft barely offering protection from a solid storm track trekking east.
No swell producing weather systems were occurring in the South Pacific.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours yet more gale energy is forecast developing on the dateline on Fri AM (2/26) producing 40-45 kt west winds with seas building to 33 ft at 41N 176W. This system to track into the Western Gulf in the evening with seas fading from 31 ft at 40N 168W. But a series of 3 small system are to form in it's wake Sun-Mon (3/1) in the Gulf with seas 36, 39 and 32 ft respectfully. The strongest system to build Mon PM (3/1) with seas 44 ft at 36N 155W targeting the US West Coast. And more is forecast behind. Certainly something to monitor.
Beyond 72 hours noswell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
More details to follow...
SOI Reaches New Low as Active MJO Controls Dateline
Kelvin Wave #5 Retreating - El Nino at the Oceans Surface is Fading
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 equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced 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.cgianet, 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 help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. 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: A strong El Nino has developed. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool built steadily in spurts, peaking in the Oct-Nov, timeframe, then began a slow decline. But even in Jan 2016, the strongest Westerly Wind Burst of the event occurred, with another Kelvin Wave developing. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a paragraph that ties all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis from TAO Buoys: As of Sun (2/21) indicated moderate west winds south of the equator from 160E to 170W south of 2S and growing in coverage. Otherwise east winds prevailed and strong over the entire zone from 2S northward. Anomalies were strong from the west from 160E to 170W south of the equator, with much of that south of 5S and neutral everywhere else. El Nino continued expressing itself modestly.
1 Week Forecast: West anomalies were indicted in the KWGA starting 2/16, and and were holding through 2/22, and are to fade in coverage slightly through 2/24, then building in strength and coverage reaching full WWB status 2/25-2/29 mainly between 160-180W and positively influencing the jetstream and feeding the manifestation of El Nino. The only east anomalies that occurred in 2015 KWGA were from 12/7-12/17 during an Inactive Phase of the MJO. Fortunately that ended quickly.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East
Comparison of 2 Strong Westerly Wind Bursts (WWB)
On left the massive WWB in late June/July that created large Kelvin Wave #3. On right the current WWB that is generating Kelvin Wave #4.
Scales are a little different but notice anomalies in the July event at 12-14 m/s est (24-28 kts) and now in Oct at 13-14 m/s (26-28 kts)
(Click to Enlarge Images)
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:
OLR Models: As of Sun (2/21) a moderately strong Active Phase of the MJO signal was over the dateline while the Inactive Phase was strong in the Indian Ocean. The Statistic model projects the Active Phase moving steadily east while fading slightly, dissipating south of Hawaii 2 weeks out while the Inactive Phase moves into the West Pacific. The dynamic model depicts a similar initial setup, but with the Active Phase slowly strengthening while holding stationary on the dateline 5 days out, then slowly weakening while holding ground on the dateline 2 weeks out. This suggests the Active Phase is to continue enhancing El Nino for the next 2 weeks (through 3/7).
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): The ECMF model indicates a moderately Active MJO signal over the West Pacific. It is to peak on the dateline while strengthening some 4 days out, then slowly ease east and fading while moving over the Americas 2 weeks out. The GEFS depicts the same generally pattern, with the MJO strengthening as it tracks east over the dateline 4 days out, then weakening while holding on the dateline over the next 2 weeks. West winds in the KWGA are to continue being enhanced as the Active Phase moves over the dateline, fueling the jetstream.
40 Day Upper Level Model: We are ignoring this model because it has consistently failed to be accurate.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): The Active Phase of the MJO is building over the dateline with west wind anomalies taking hold in the area. This pattern to hold through 3/3 with west anomalies in control and solid if not at WWB status, then fading some but not out through 3/17 but di.cgiaced east near 165W having minimal Kelvin Wave generation potential, typical of the mature phase of El Nino. Still, they will help fuel the jetstream and therefore storm production. The model depicts west anomalies fading to almost nothing 3/20 with no coherent MJO signal expected until maybe 4/2 when a weak Active Phase is to redevelop.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (2/18) Actual temperatures remain decent but are fading. A large pocket of 29 deg temps were at depth between 140E to 143W and retreating with the 28 deg isotherm line barely hanging on at 123W and retreating. Anomaly wise things are fading. +2 deg anomalies are moving eat at 170W and points eastward but getting steadily shallower. +4 deg anomalies are moving east fast from 122W and delineate the remaining core of the subsurface reservoir while shallow. No warmer temps remain. Cool subsurface waters are down at 150m and racing east at 112W. The warm pool is loosing ground quickly. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 2/17 the reservoir is trying to hold on with warm water still flowing into it from near the dateline and a +5 deg core attributable solely to WWB #5 moving east from 100W-130W. +4 deg anomalies are retreating east from 137W. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. No +4 deg anomalies were pushing to the surface just yet but were close near 105W. This newly developed Kelvin Wave #5 has put the end of this ENSO event on hold for now, but even it's end is in sight.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (2/12) The image depicts the warm pool in decline too. 0-+5 cm anomalies are holding for the moment at covering the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 162W (steady for the moment). Peak anomalies at +15 are over a fading and tiny area at 120W. +10 cm anomalies are loosing coverage between 105W-150W. The subsurface warm pool has recharged as much as it's going to from Kelvin Wave #5 and is on the decline.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (2/17) Temps are fading fast. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are fading from 147W and extending east to the Galapagos. +1.0-1.5 degs anomalies are retracting some from 138W. +1.5 deg anomalies are retracting some from 130W.+2.0 deg anomalies are present between 108W-125W, easing east. No +2.5 deg anomalies were present. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #5 is wrapping up. Temps have dropped from Ecuador to the Galapagos to 0.5-1.0 degs and moving east, hopefully the extent of the Upwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #4. This El Nino remains westward di.cgiaced. The Downwelling Phase should reach the surface about March 1. This might only extend the life of El Nino, or slow it's demise, but not add substantially to it. The peak of El Nino from a subsurface warming perspective has passed. We're just trying to hold off the emergence of La nina at this point.
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.
Hi-res Nino1.2: (2/21) The latest image indicates temps continuing to cool here east of 100W except for a few random pockets to +2.25 degs which are building along the coast of Peru. Still average temps were more in the +1.25-+1.5 deg range. Lack of solidly warm water here indicates the Kelvin Wave eruption area is westward di.cgiaced, with occasional pockets of warmer water sneaking in, but not steadily. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since.
Hi-res Nino 3.4: (2/21) The latest image depicts this area is rapid decline. +2.25 anomalies cover a thin area between 110W to 160W but are loosing width and concentration. All this warm water is attributable to Kelvin Wave #4 advecting west. Kelvin Wave #5 is expected to not add anything to the surface warm pool, only slow it's demise.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (2/21): A steady state pattern was depicted with some warming between 90W-120W, possibly attributable to Kelvin Wave #5.
Hi-res Overview: (2/21) The El Nino signal is unmistakable but is no longer building and westward di.cgiaced with most warm anomalies between 100W-170W. The mid-zoomed image depicts the vent port area contains only 2-3 deg anomalies, and then only in patches. Most anomalies are concentrated from 102W to 170W (in the core of Nino3.4).
Historical Comparison of Strong El Nino's
Images built using 2 data sets - Monthly OISSTv.2 (left) & ERSSTv4 (right) This years data valid through November.
Both images/datasets suggest this is the warmest the NINO3.4 region has ever been. Now the question becomes: Will that translate in weather and swell? If the theory that temps in this area translate in stormier weather, then the answer is obvious.
Requisite Disclaimer - Current performance is no indication of future performance.
(Click to enlarge)
Kelvin Wave #3 Eruption Evolution
(click to enlarge)
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond. The +0.0 anomaly line on the equator is not present (formally at 140E). +1.5 deg anomalies are retreating east to 177W. There is also a solid area of +2.0 deg anomalies extending east from 169W (shrinking). +2.5 anomalies are present in one pocket at 158W to 142W. Overall the warm water signature is solid but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/22) Temps are stable at +0.676. Previously they peaked here for 5 days at +2.581 near 10/8 and previously at +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (2/22) temps were steady today at +2.274, fading from somewhere in the +2.5 degs range since late Dec through Feb 11. The all time peak was reached at +3.041 on 12z 11/19. This temp beat the previous all time high of +3.028 degs (12Z 11/17), Temps have not been below +2.0 degs since 8/21.
Nino3.0 CDAS Index Temps: (2/22) Today's value have stabilized at +1.807, declining since 1/16. Peak temps occurred 12/6 at +2.989, and +2.990 (11/28).
Nino3.4 Monthly Temps (January) The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of Jan are +2.27 (beating '98 which was +2.21 and '83 which was +2.13). December was +2.31 (beating 97 which was +2.23 and 82 at +2.21). November was adjusted up to +2.36 degs (beating the highest temp recorded in '97 Nov - +2.32 degs and beating '82 +2.03 degs). Oct temps were +2.03 degs. See updated graphs above. The ONI uses a 3 month running average.
ONI For 2015 for the 3 month period centered on Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec the values are: +1.8, +2.1. +2.2 +2.3. For the same period in '97 the values were: +2.0, +2.2, +2.3 and +2.3. And for '82 the values were: +1.5, +1.9, +2.1 and +2.1. This make this years El Nino the second strongest on record since 1950.
Note: ERSSTv4 'centered' data is not available for Nino1, 3 and 4 regions, only Nino3.4.
Pacific Counter Current: As of 2/15 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 160E to 145W. East current was also present from Galapagos to 145W. Anomaly wise - One pocket of solid east anomalies was between 160E to 145W on the equator. Otherwise everything was effectively normal. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline based on this data.
SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps were reached at +2.95 degs on Nov 5, then faded slightly in early December to +2.8 holding to Feb 1. Then a sharp decline started with temps down to +2.5 degs mid-Feb. The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +2.0 by 3/1, then steadily declining from there before stabilizing at +0.75 degs in July and starting to rebuild in Oct. This would still be El Nino threshold temps. Hard to believe.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Jan Plume depicts temps peaked in Jan, at +2.8 degs. The consensus suggests temps to fall steadily from here forward, down to -0.7 by October. See chart here - link.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (2/22): It falling hard at -50.30, the lowest of this event. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st. Notable deep readings in this 2015-16 event were: -49.70/-46.60 on Oct 3 & 4, -42.20 on 10/14, -47.50 on 12/3, -38.50 on 1/2, -40.20 on 2/17. Then the peak of this event occurred 2/22 at -50.30.
30 Day Average: Was falling from -12.24. The peak low was recorded on 1/26/16 at -24.89, with a secondary peak on 10/9 at -22.72, beating the previous peak low of -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15. This is exactly where we want to be (at -20 or lower).
90 Day Average: Was falling some from -15.10. A record low of -19.28 occurred on 10/16 and was matched on 10/20. The previous record low was -18.56 on 9/16.
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): A neutral pressure pattern was near Darwin on 2/22 and is to hold for the next week or turn slightly towards higher pressure, but not much. It is relative high pressure over Australia in NHemi winter months that is the preferred pattern for El Nino development in the Pacific.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 2/22 weak low pressure was over Tahiti and a stronger low was centered well west of Tahiti. Relative to Tahiti low pressure is to hold in the area then build more Fri-Sat (2/27) peaking on Sun (2/28). The SOI is expected to be turning more negative based on the Tahiti contribution.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (2/22) Today's value was +1.18, holding over the past week. The most recent peak was +2.33 on 1/14. It also peaked at +2.40 on Sat (10/17) and was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15 El Nino is reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Jan) These numbers were released Feb 5th and indicate the index increased slightly by 0.08 to +2.20, holding it in the third highest since 1950 behind the '82/83 and '97/98 El Ninos. Since it has not reached the +3.0 standard deviation level, it is NOT considered a Super El Nino, nor is it expected to reach that status. The Nov ranking was +2.31, up barely from +2.23 (Oct), down from it's peak of +2.53 in Sept, and from +2.37 in Aug. The top 6 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '15, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO turned from a 6 year negative run (2008-2013) in early 2014 and has been mostly above +1.5 all of 2015. In Jan 2016 it was +1.53. 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 suggests that could be a real possibility. We've been in the negative phase since 1998 through at least 2013 (15 years). By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.
North Pacific Jetstream (2/22) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. The jet looks very good and is forecast to hold.
Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
(Click to enlarge)
Conclusion: This El Nino is the 3rd strongest El Nino since 1950 based primarily on the MEI. Centered Monthly Nino3.4 data suggests it is the 2nd strongest. Based on California precipitation, this one does not compared to any major El Nino in recent memory, but there are still 2 months to go in the main Winter/Spring precipitation season. Based on surf, El Nino is having the expected affects producing 9 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season with more expected.
From a pure El Nino perspective, the peak of the event is over. But from a teleconnection standpoint, the warm pool in Nino3.4 is still imparting solid energy to the atmosphere and the jetstream is still positively being reinforced by it. That in combination with the Active Phase of the MJO is still rendering El nino of significant positive influence on storm production and will continue to do so through mid-to late April. but after that, the jetstream and storm track will start to decline, primarily due to seasonal changes.
Then the focus turns to how quick and how much will the jet be affected for the Fall and Winter of 2016-2017. It's too early to know anything definitive yet, but with the PDO still positive, it is possible the transition to La Nina may not be a strong as in past events.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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