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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 3:35 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
2.1 - California & 3.2 - 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 3/19 thru Sun 3/25

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   

Northeast Swell Hitting Hawaii
Two Gales Forecast in CA Swell Window

BUOY ROUNDUP

On Wednesday, March 21, 2018 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): This buoy is down and not updating.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.6 secs from 192 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 57.6 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 0.7 ft @ 14.7 secs from 196 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.2 ft @ 13.3 secs from 213 degrees. At Camp Pendleton (043) swell was 1.4 ft @ 14.8 secs from 219 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.8 ft @ 14.1 secs from 214 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 9.1 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 7.3 ft @ 7.7 secs from 169 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 20-23 kts. Water temp 53.6 degs.

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 (3/21) in North and Central CA south windswell was being produced resulting in waves in the waist high range and lumpy and weak but not chopped yet. Protected breaks were flat to thigh high and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was head high and kinda all over the place and warbled but not whitecapped. In Southern California up north surf was thigh to waist high and inconsistent but occasionally peeling and clean. In North Orange Co surf was chest high on the sets and clean with light offshore winds coming out of the south. South Orange Country's best breaks were shoulder to head high on the biggest sets and clean with light offshore winds with good form but inconsistent. In North San Diego surf was waist high or so on the sets and weak but clean with light offshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was getting northeast swell building from 1-2 ft overhead with clean/sideshore conditions with just a little sidebump and modest trades in control. The South Shore was thigh to maybe waist high at top breaks and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast swell at 3 ft overhead and chopped from moderate east winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Wednesday (3/21) local south windswell was hitting California with some small southern hemi swell hitting exposed breaks in Southern CA. In Hawaii northeast swell was hitting generated by a low pressure system previously off California Mon-Tues (3/20) that produced up to 30 ft seas aimed southwest targeting the Hawaiian Islands well. And a weak low is to fall south through the Northeastern Gulf Wed-Thurs (3/22) targeting North and Central CA with 18-20 ft seas with a secondary gale right behind it Fri-Sat (2/24) falling south and producing up to 26 ft seas targeting North and Central CA. Swell is possible. After that a gale is forecast forming on the dateline Tues-Wed (2/28) tracking southeast producing up to 30 ft seas. So there is some limited hope.

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Wednesday AM (3/21) the jetstream was barely consolidated over Japan then quickly splitting with the northern branch pushing northeast along the coast of the Kuril Islands pushing over the Western Aleutians and well up into the Bering Sea before falling south and into the Eastern Gulf of Alaska forming a bit of a trough off British Columbia and south to a point just off the US West Coast before turning northeast and moving inland over North CA. There was limited support for gale development in the trough. The southern branch fell southeast off Japan then turned east on the dateline moving over Hawaii before partially joining the northern branch pushing into a wide area from Central Baja to North CA. ONly the Gulf trough held any hope for supporting gale development with high pressure the likely outcome in between the massively split jetstream flow filling the Central Pacific. Over the next 72 hours the trough off the California coast is to continue circulating while slowly easing east eventually pushing inland over North CA on Sat (3/24) but with winds never exceeding 100 kts falling into it offering limited support for gale development there. To the west the jet is to remain massively split. Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (3/25) the jet is to become consolidated pushing off Japan with winds building to 150 kts reaching to the dateline offering a smidgeon of support for gale development before splitting again on the dateline and points east of there. By later Mon (3/26) a bit of a trough is to develop in this flow on the dateline with 140 kts winds in the bottom of the trough offering support for gale development there on the dateline with that trough falling southeast into Wed (3/28) while winds fade to 130-140 kts offering some support for gale development. The jet is to ridge east of there then be falling south down the US West Coast with the trough previously off the coast there now inland with it's apex over North Baja and the Sea of Cortez. No support for gale development there but still perhaps offering odds for weather into California.

Surface Analysis
On Wednesday AM (3/21) two low pressure systems were circulating, one nearly on the dateline (see Cutoff Dateline Gale below) and the other 650 nmiles east of Central CA (see Gulf Gale - Hawaii below).

Over the next 72 hours another pair of gale are to develop targeting mainly California (details below).

Another low pressure system was starting to build over the North Canadian Coast Wed AM (3/21) producing 30 kt north winds streaming south off Alaska with a tiny area with 19 ft seas building at 54N 142W targeting the British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest Coast. The low and associated fetch is to fall south in the evening with 30 kt north winds well off British Columbia and seas 20 ft at 50N 141W (319 degs NCal). On Thurs AM (3/22) fetch is to fall south at 30 kts with 20 ft seas at 47N 140W (308 degs NCal). The low is to fade some in the evening with 25-30 kt northwest winds targeting Northern CA and 19 ft seas at 42N 138W (297 degs NCal). This system is to fade from there. Possible weak swell to result for North and Central CA. Something to monitor.

North CA: Swell arrival possible in North California on Fri (3/23) building to 7.8 ft @ 12 secs (9.0 ft) but shadowed in the San Francisco Bay area. Swell Direction: 300-305 degrees

A secondary gale is to develop off the coast of British Columbia Fri AM (3/23) generating 35 kt northwest winds and seas building from 20 ft at 48N 141W targeting Oregon and North CA. The gale is to build in the evening with northwest winds to 40 kts and seas to 27 ft at 45N 137W (308 degs NCal). On Sat AM (3/24) the gale is to be just off the CA-Oregon border with northwest winds 35 kts and seas 26 ft at 42N 133W (298 degs NCal). In the evening the gale is to be moving onshore over Cape Mendocino with north winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 20 ft at 39N 129W (296 degs NCal). Something to monitor.

 

Cutoff Dateline Gale
A cutoff low started developing west-northwest of Hawaii on Sat PM (3/17) producing a tiny area of east winds at 40 kts and seas 21 ft at 27N 177W all aimed west and of no interest to Hawaii. Sun AM (3/18) winds were fading from 30-35 kts from the east with 20 ft seas over a tiny area not aimed anywhere of interest (away from Hawaii). In the evening winds continued at 30- 35 kts from the east with 20 ft seas at 31N 173W again aimed only to the west and not at Hawaii. On Mon AM (3/19) more of the same was occurring with east winds at 35 kts aimed west with 20 ft seas at 33N 173W aimed mainly to the west. In the evening fetch held with 30-35 kt east winds aimed west with 22 ft seas at 34N 175W. On Tues AM (3/20) fetch was building to 35 kt over a somewhat larger area with 21 ft seas at 35N 174W aimed west to northwest. In the evening east winds to continue at 35 kts with seas 23 ft at 35N 172W aimed east. This system is to rapidly dissipate from there. There are no odds of any swell radiating towards Hawaii since all fetch was aimed west of the Islands towards Japan.

Gulf Gale - Hawaii
Of more interest is another weak low that developed 900 nmiles west of Central CA on Sun PM (3/18) starting to generate 30 kt east winds in it's north quadrant targeting Hawaii. On Monday AM (3/19) winds were building to 35 kts from the east and northeast while holding position with seas building to 20 ft over a small area at 38N 147W aimed mainly back at Hawaii. Fetch built in the evening to 45 kts from the northeast with seas building to 31 ft at 36N 144W targeting Hawaii. Tues AM (3/20) fetch was fading and falling south with winds 35 kts from the northeast targeting Hawaii well with 26 ft seas at 34N 145W aimed directly at Hawaii. In the evening fetch was fading from 30-35 kts from the northeast with seas fading from 20 ft at 34N 145W targeting Hawaii well. This system was in rapid decline Wed AM (3/21) with 30 kt northeast winds and 16 ft seas at 33N 140W over a tiny area still targeting Hawaii. The core of the system is to start tracking east moving over North CA on Thurs (3/22).

Hawaii: Expect northeast swell arriving at Oahu on Wed AM (3/21) with swell to 7.3 ft @ 14-15 secs mid-day (10 ft). on Thurs (3/22) swell is to be fading from 6.3 ft @ 13 secs (8.0 ft). Lesser energy to follow on Fri (3/23) fading from 4.8 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). Residuals on Saturday (3/24) fading from 3.8 ft @ 10-11 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 30-35 degrees initially moving to 45 degrees

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Wednesday AM (3/21) low pressure was building 650 nmiles off Pt Conception tapping tropical moisture and pushing that into the California coast. Winds were south to southwest at 15 kts for North and Central CA and light. Steady light rain was falling over all of North and Central CA and South CA down to Ventura County and forecast to get heavy there by later in the afternoon. Light snow for higher elevations of the North and Central Sierra (8200 ft early falling to 7200 ft sunset with sleet down to 6800 ft). Thursday (3/22) the low is poised to move onshore over Central CA with south winds 15 kts for North and Central CA early turning north at 20 kts later afternoon, and southwest winds 10-15 kts for South CA holding through the day. Rain building to heavy from Big Sur southward to Santa Barbara county through the day. Blizzard conditions for the entire Sierra starting about 2 AM Thursday and building till 10 AM slowly fading into the evening. Snow levels for Tahoe falling from 7100 ft early to Lake level (6200 ft) at 6 PM. Sleet levels 66 ft early falling to 6400 ft at 5 Pm and falling from there. Fri AM (3/23) north winds forecast at 15-20 kts for the Pt Conception area but light for the San Francisco area and west at 20+ kts for Cape Mendocino as another low builds off Oregon and the front impacts the north coast. Steady rain building south from Cape Mendocino south to Monterey Bay later. Snow building for the North Sierra to Tahoe later in the evening. Snow level 2200 ft early rising to 3500 ft and holding there late afternoon. Saturday the low is to hold off South Oregon with a front pushing south and west winds to Monterey bay late afternoon with high pressure and northwest winds 15 kts for all of Southern CA. Light rain mainly for North CA and scattered rain down into Central CA. Modest snow for Tahoe building during the day peaking in the evening. Sunday (3/25) the low is to be fading over North CA with northwest 10-15 kts for North and Central CA and 15 kts for all of Central CA. Scattered showers for the North and Central coasts. Snow showers for the entire Sierra. Monday (3/26) high pressure to build off the coast with north winds 15+ kts for all of California.No precipitation forecast. Scattered snow showers for mainly tahoe south to the Southern Sierra. Total accumulation for Tahoe on the crest forecast at 54-58 inches and 50 inches for Mammoth.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
No swell producing weather systems of interest are occurring.

Over the next 72 hours the models hint at a small weather system developing in the Central Pacific on Fri PM (3/23) lifting gently east-northeast with seas hitting 32 ft over a tiny area Sat AM (3/24) at 55S 126W. The gale is to be fading and turning east in the evening with seas fading from 30 ft at 56S 114W and moving out of the Southern CA swell window. Maybe some background swell to result for California.

 

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 gale is forecast developing in a trough just west of the dateline producing a small area of 40 kt northwest winds and seas building from 26 ft over a tiny area at 38N 171E. In the evening north winds to build to 45 kts with 30 ft seas at 36N 177E targeting Hawaii well. The gale is to be fading with northwest winds fading from 40 kts while tracking southeast on Wed AM (3/28) with seas 29 ft at 34N 180W targeting Hawaii. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a storm is forecast.

A strong system is forecast developing for the deep Southeast Pacific on Tues PM (3/27) with 55 kt south winds and seas building from 40 ft at 62S 135W. On Wed AM (3/28) southwest winds to be building in coverage at 55 kts aimed well north with seas 54 ft at 59S 124W aimed at CA and all of Central and South America. Something to monitor but not believable at this early date.

More details to follow...

 

Large Kelvin Wave Pushing into East Pacific

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 2 Upwelling Kelvin Waves, suggesting the demise of La Nina was at hand.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of Tuesday (3/20) 5 day average winds were from the east over the bulk of the equatorial Pacific but reversed and from the west over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Anomalies were modest easterly over the equatorial East Pacific but solid westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): (3/21) Moderate to strong east anomalies were east of the KWGA with moderate to strong westerly winds filling the KWGA to 170W. This pattern is to hold but unfortunately the dividing line between east and west anomalies retrograding west to 170E on 3/23. This pattern to hold thereafter but with westerly anomalies weakening some into the end of the model run on 3/28 with easterly anomalies fading as well.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/20) No coherent MJO signal was indicated over the equatorial Pacific. The statistical model depicts a neutral MJO signal is to hold for the next 2 weeks. The dynamic model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO is to slowly develop and move east into the West Pacific and the KWGA but weak 15 days out.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/20) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO very weak in strength over the Maritime Continent. It is to remain weak tracking east into the West Pacific over the next 2 weeks. The GEFS model depicts a variant of the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model: (3/21) This model depicts the Inactive/Dry Phase was moving over Central America and into the Atlantic. A weak Active/Wet pattern was over the West Pacific. The weak Active Phase is to track east from the West Pacific moving east into the East Pacific and Central America through 4/13. A new weak Inactive Phase is to be developing weakly in the far West Pacific on 4/5 migrating to the East Pacific on 4/23 with moore Inactive Phase activity behind it moving through the Central Pacific on 4/30. The Active Phase is suggested developing over the Maritime Continent poised to move into the West Pacific at that time. This model runs about 1-2 weeks ahead of what happens at the surface.
CFS Model - 3 month (850 mb wind): (3/21) This model depicts the Inactive Phase was all but gone over the KWGA with east anomalies mainly from the dateline and points east of there with moderate west anomalies from 170E and point west of there with this west wind pattern holding through 3/27. From that point forward east anomalies are forecast to collapse and not return for the duration of the model run. A weak Active Phase is to follow in the West Pacific starting 3/29 holding through 4/14 with modest west anomalies developing and filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Beyond no coherent MJO signal is forecast through 5/30 but with weak west anomalies holding in the KWGA and no sign of east anomalies in the KWGA or even in the East Pacific. Perhaps a stronger Active Phase to develop 6/1 holding through the end of the model run on 6/18 with west anomalies strengthening some in the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a modest low pressure bias over the bulk of the KWGA at 170E and is to push east steadily from here forward reaching the dateline 4/14 with a high pressure bias over the East KWGA at 175E and steadily moving east and out of the KWGA on 4/4. Basically the La Nina bias is to be gone in 2-3 weeks. But no significant oceanic change is expected until 3 months after the change has taken place in the atmosphere.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/21) The overview pattern depicts that warm water is sequestered to the west but building east with cooler water steadily loosing control of the East Pacific. Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 degs at 160E. The 28 deg isotherm line has eased east to 180W and steep (meaning there is a headwind of cooler water pushing into it from the east - La Nina). The 24 deg isotherm was building in thickness while making significant eastward progress at 90 meters deep at 140W and 25 meters deep at 120W on into Ecuador. Anomaly wise in the East Pacific negative temperatures at -1 degs were in two shrinking pockets, one at 140W on the surface and the second at -1.0 degs at 105W 75 metes deep. Cooler waters are steadily loosing coverage and density and being squeezed to the surface by warm water building in from the west at depth. Warm anomalies were building in the West at +3.5 degs at 165W down 150 meters and are building east with the dividing line between that and cool waters moving east to 125W indicative of a large Kelvin Wave pushing east and about poised to erupt in the far East Pacific. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/14 depicts warm water in the west at +3.5 degs reaching east to 120W. Cool water at -1.5 degs was holding in one elongated shallow pocket in the East Pacific from Ecuador to 165W down 50-70 meters and continues significantly losing density, intensity and depth. The cool pool appears to be slowly discharging to the surface. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data.
Sea Level Anomalies: (3/14) Positive anomalies were over the West equatorial Pacific at +5-10 cms centered at 180W reaching east to 135W but with a leading pocket to 115W. Neutral anomalies were east of there except for negative anomalies at -5 cms between Ecuador and the Galapagos. The La Nina cool pool is all but gone.

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: (3/20) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate a generic and diffuse cool pocket was in the deep Southeast Pacific centered at 20S 100W. Warm anomalies were holding off the coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador while cooler temps from the Inactive/Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle were along the immediate coast of Peru. Very warm anomalies are present from the Galapagos out to 100W and northward off Central America and Mexico. Cool pockets were generally weak and diffuse on the equator from 105W west of there to 160W.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/20): A generally neutral trend was off Chile. A weak warming trend was developing along Peru and over the Galapagos up to Central America. Two cool pockets were present along the equator, one off Ecuador and another at 105-120W. The upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle appears to be fading and moving west.
Hi-res Overview: (3/20) A significant erosion of La Nina is underway with warming building in the entire Nino1.2 region even though the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle was negating some of that. A broad weak cool pocket is still present well off Chile and Peru (10S 120W) cojoined with the La Nina core on the equator from 100W to the dateline peaking at 120W, starting to look like a Modoki La Nina than anything solid (meaning the core of La Nina is advecting west). Cool water at depth is still erupting to the surface with the breach point south of Hawaii. Overall the cooling pattern is steadily loosing density and drifting west. It appears La Nina is in steady decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/21) Today's temps were falling slightly at -1.365 degs, down near to the peak of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle on 3/12 at -1.5 degs and retreating from the peak of the first Kelvin Wave hitting at +0.898 degrees on 2/28. Overall temps are steadily marching upwards since late December. Temps in this area bottomed out on 12/23 at -2.1 degs, a third near peak negative reading. The lowest point so far in this La Nina was -2.248 degs reached on 11/5. And that low point was lower than the previous coldest point reached on 10/11 at -1.9 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/21) Today temps were falling some at -1.021. A surge in temps occurred 1/12-1/28 reaching up to -0.600 deg range. Since then temps have eased off some. Previously a peak low was observed on 1/10-1/12 to -1.577. On (12/7) temps hit a previous record low at -1.219, just below the previous coldest peak so far this La Nina on 11/22 at -1.156. And the third previous low peak was reached at -1.1 on 11/23. The long arc suggests perhaps a rising pattern. La Nina is in control, but it's taking a hit.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (3/21) The forecast depicts temps bottomed out at -0.75 in Nov 2017 and have been slowly rebounding since, up to -0.55 in early Feb and expected to rise to -0.5 in April. The model indicates temps hovering there into July, then falling some to -0.55 in early Aug, then starting to rise into the Fall to -0.25 degs in Nov. This suggests the peak of La Nina occurred in 2017 but is to linger into the Summer of 2018 before fading some in the Fall. This would make it a 3 year La Nina which is exceedingly rare (3 year La Ninas 17%, 2 year La Ninas 50%, 1 year La Ninas 33% 1951-2017). This model is the outlier with others suggesting La Nina is to die this Spring.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps at -0.5 degs and are to slowly rise, to +0.0 in May and +0.2 in August and +0.5 in November. See chart here - link. It looks like La Nina is fading out. The CFSv2 is in the low end of that pack.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (3/21): The daily index was holding negative at -6.08. The 30 day average was rising at 7.82 suggesting the Inactive Phase of the MJO was still affecting the index. The 90 day average was falling some at 1.45 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (3/19) This index continues falling today at -0.92, down from -0.33 in late Feb, but that was up from -1.11 on 1/29. The trend suggests La Nina is fading but not gone. Last years La Nina reached -1.94 on 11/2/16 and then fell to -2.20 on 6/28/17. It held pretty negative through Jan 2018. This index is a forerunner of what happens in the ocean by 2-3 months in developing El Nino and La Nina events. The goal is to have it rise to at least -0.5 before a significant change could be suggested.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.12, Feb = +0.05, March = +0.14, April=+0.53, May=+0.29, June=+0.21, July= -0.50, Aug= -0.62, Sept = -0.25, Oct= -0.61, Nov = -0.45, Dec= -0.13, Jan=+0.29, Feb=-0.10. 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 EDU index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2017 = +0.77, Feb = +0.70, Mar = +0.74, April=+1.12, May=+0.88, June=+0.79, July=+0.10, Aug=+0.09, Sept = +0.32, Oct=+0.05, Nov = +0.15, Dec = +0.50, Jan +0.70. No negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool

****

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

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Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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