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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2016 6:01 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
2.5 - California & 4.0 - 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 3/28 thru Sun 4/3

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   

Dateline Swell Fading in Hawaii
Sideband Energy Starting to Hit CA

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.

 

On Thursday, March 31, 2016 :

  • Buoy 106 (Waimea Bay): Seas were 9.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 6.9 ft @ 13.5 secs from 328 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.9 ft @ 15.9 secs with swell 1.6 ft @ 16.2 secs from 195 degrees. Wind north 8 kts. Water temperature 58.1. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.8 ft @ 16.1 secs from 210 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.3 ft @ 17.1 secs from 199 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.4 ft @ 16.7 secs from 198 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 5.7 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 4.1 ft @ 16.1 secs from 266 degrees. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temp 52.0 degs.

    Notes

    Buoy 46059, Hi-res Buoys

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Thursday (3/31) in North and Central CA surf was head high at top spots but with poor form due to bad sand configuration. Wind was light with reasonably clean conditions. Water temp is way down. At Santa Cruz surf was chest to head high on the rare sets and clean and occasionally lined up. In Southern California up north waves were up to waist to maybe chest high and clean and lined up when they came. Down south waves were chest high on the sets coming out of the south and clean but suffering from poor subsurface sand conditions. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Swell #13 with waves in the 14-15 ft range Hawaiian and reasonably clean and lined up but with much residual lump. The South Shore was near flat with rare waist high sets and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell with waves 2 ft overhead and pretty lumpy from northwest wind.

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

Meteorological Overview
Swell is in the water hitting Hawaii originating from a gale that developed near the dateline Sat (3/26) falling southeast producing up to 32 ft seas tracking directly towards the Islands through Tues (3/29). Small sideband swell from this system is starting to show at the buoys in North CA too but not seeing much on the shore. Small Southern Hemi swell from a gale in the deep South Pacific is also hitting exposed south facing breaks in California. Looking at the models some sort of a weak low pressure/gale pattern is forecast developing in the North Pacific near the dateline on Sun (4/3) and easing east from there generating 20 ft seas, but nothing remarkable is expected to result. A slightly stronger system is to follow on Wed-Thurs (4/7) producing up to 25 ft seas. The Active Phase of the MJO is to supposedly provide one last push in the late April timeframe before the season fades out. We're not holding our breath.

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Thursday AM (3/31) the jet was consolidated pushing off Japan with peak winds in the 120 kts range flowing due east reaching a point 800 nmiles northeast of Hawaii and .cgiitting there, with the northern branch tracking north up into Alaska and the southern branch proceeding southeast from the .cgiit tracking inland over Baja. A steep and almost pinched trough was just west of the .cgiit point (in the Central Gulf) offering minimal support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours that trough is to dissipate by Fri AM (4/1) but with the .cgiit remaining and weak energy dibbling into the northern branch that is to push into British Columbia. Another .cgiit is to appear over Japan pushing up into Kamchatka, but falling due south and rejoining the main flow just off the coast of Japan late Sat (4/2). A trough is to form where the two flows rejoin forming a new pocket of winds in the 170 kt range over the dateline offering minimal support for gale development there with solid winds reaching east to a point north of Hawaii. Beyond 72 hours this trough is to track east moving into the Gulf on Wed (4/60 offering continued weak support for gale development. Beyond the jet is to be running flat east on the 38N latitude line, but almost be .cgiit over it's length with some energy running parallel to it down at 22N. No obvious support for gale development is indicated, but nothing particularly inhibiting it either. We just need a little more wind energy in the jet.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/31) groundswell from the Dateline Gale (see details below) was hitting Hawaii with sideband energy starting to hit North CA, but weak and inconsistent. Remnants of this gale were still circulating in the Northern Gulf but not generating any fetch of interest. No other swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay.

Over the next 72 hours another small gale is forecast developing on the dateline on Sat (4/2) producing 30 kt northwest winds but not getting any traction till Sunday AM (4/3) when winds build to 40 kts while tracking east with seas to 20 ft over a tiny area at 40N 174W. 35 kt west winds to build in coverage slightly in the evening generating 20 ft seas at 43N 166W targeting mainly California and points north of there. Fetch to fade from 30 kts Sun AM (4/4) in the Northern Gulf with seas barely 20 ft up at 46N 160W. Given it's small footprint and rather fast eastward track, only limited swell to result, targeting mainly the US West Coast from San Francisco northward. Will monitor.

 

Dateline Gale (Swell #13)
A new broad gale developed in the Northwest Pacific starting Fri PM (3/25) producing 30-35 kt west winds just south of the Central Aleutians and west of the dateline and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Sat AM (3/26) 40 kt northwest fetch was building in the same area with seas building from 22 ft at 45N 170E (324 degs HI). In evening 45 kt west winds built while easing southeast with seas building to 30 ft at 43N 172E (324 degs HI). Sun AM (3/27) 40 kt northwest winds continued resulting in a broader area of 32 ft seas at 42N 178E (325 degs HI). 40 kt northwest winds continued in the evening with the gale falling southeast generating 31 ft seas at 39N 177E. A slow fade to set in Mon AM (3/28) with winds barely 40 kts from the northwest and seas 31 ft at 36N 180W (313 degs HI). In the evening fetch faded from barely 35 kts positioned 700 nmiles northwest of Hawaii with seas dropping southeast from 29 ft at 33N 176W (314 degrees). This system was effectively gone by Tues AM (3/29) with northwest fetch 30 kts and barely reaching Kauai at 15 kts. 26 ft seas were fading at 32N 171W. A possible long run of rideable surf to result for Hawaii with peak size in the significant class range . Sideband swell for California.

Hawaii: Residuals Thurs AM (3/31) fading from 8.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (12.0 ft). Dribbles on Fri AM (4/1) fading from 5.3 ft @ 12 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 314-324 degrees

North CA: Swell arrival on Thurs PM (3/31) pushing 3.6 ft @ 16 secs (5.5 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (4/1) at 4.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (4/2) 4.6 ft @ 14 secs (6.0-6.5 ft). Residuals on Sun (4/3) fading from 4.0 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 285 degrees

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (3/31) weak high pressure at 1022 mbs was off South California making for a light northwest flow at 5-10 kts pushing down the coast but up to 15 kts near Point Conception. More of the same is forecast Friday. An even weaker pressure pattern is forecast early Sat (4/2) with north winds 5 kts for North and Central CA though 10 kts over Pt Conception. No change Sunday with a weak trough (not even a closed isobar low) approaching the North Coast and maybe south winds 10 kts for extreme North CA later in the day. Clearing high pressure is to be behind that front hitting the North and Central Coast Monday AM with north west winds 15 kts building to 25 kts later from Pt Conception northward. More of the same is forecast on Tuesday with the high moving onshore over the Pacific Northwest Wed AM and winds in CA fading if not turning light offshore all locations. Light south winds forecast Thurs AM (4/7) for the entire state at 10 kts associated with a weak trough moving over the coast and light rain pushing north from Baja over Southern CA and into Central CA later.

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
On Thurs AM (3/31) swell from a gale that developed in the deep Central South Pacific was hitting.

A gale tracked under New Zealand on Mon PM (3/21) generating 32 ft seas at 63S 170E. On Tues AM (3/22) 33 ft seas were at 63S 175W and fading. No other fetch resulted. No swell is expected for Hawaii or the US West Coast.

Another gale formed well east of New Zealand on Wed PM (3/30) producing 45 kt south winds while lifting north with seas building to 30 ft over a tiny area at 46S 162W aimed north at Tahiti and Hawaii. Fetch was fading from 40 kts Thurs AM (3/31) with seas fading from 31 ft at 44S 159W aimed like before. The gale to dissipate form there. Small but solid swell to result for Tahiti on Sat (4/2) at 5.2 ft @ 14-15 secs late (7.5 ft) and less for Hawaii.

 

Central Pacific Gale
On Sun AM (3/20) a gale tracked east through the deep Central South Pacific resulting in 38 ft seas at 67S 140W then fading from 31 ft in the evening at 67S 135W. 30 ft seas were fading while tracking east on Mon AM (3/21) at 66S 130W, then fading. Background swell possible for SCal a week out but most of this energy was focused on Chile.

SCal: On Fri (4/1) swell to to hold at 3 ft @ 17 secs (5 ft). Swell continuing on Sat (4/2) 2.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (4 ft). Swell fading some on Sun (4/3) from 2.2 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 190-195 degrees

North CA: On Fri (4/1) swell to be 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0 ft). Swell holding on Sat (4/2) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell continuing on Sun (4/3) at 2.6-3.0 ft @ 15 secs (4 ft). Swell fading Mon (4/4) from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) Swell Direction: 190 degrees

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast.

 

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

 

QuikCAST's

 

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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours another gale is forecast developing off the Kurils on Tues AM (4/5) generating 40 kt west winds and seas in the 23 ft range at 43N 160E. This system is to slide steadily to the east into Thurs AM (3/7) with winds continuously in the 35 kt range from the west generating sea to 25 ft at 44N 180W. Small sidebands well is possible for Hawaii and more direct but distant and therefore decayed swell is possible for the US West coast.

No other swell producing fetch is indicated.

 
South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a small storm is forecast off Chile on Mon-Tues (3/5) with 44 ft seas on Tues AM at 43S 96W aimed well at Chile up into Peru. This is well east of the US swell window.

Otherwise no swell producing fetch is forecast.

More details to follow...

MJO Collapsing in West Pacific
Subsurface and Surface Warm Pools Collapsing

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 is fading out. 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. And another weaker one occurred in Feb. But it was too little, too late. There was not any real warm water left in the West Pacific to transport east. El Nino was in a steady collapse by mid-Feb with the subsurface warm reservoir in the East Pacific in steep decline with cool water ready to move in migrating from the west. 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 Wed (3/30) a small area of moderate west winds were south of the equator in the KWGA near 170E associated with low pressure there with anomalies between 155E to 150W. A weak expression of El Nino was occurring.
1 Week Forecast: Per the GFS model weak west anomalies developed starting 3/19 near 150E and are forecast to hold through 4/3 moving to 160E in the 6 m/sec range, then fading out. No east anomalies are indicated and none have occurred since early 2014 except for on pulse on 12/7-12/17/16 during an Inactive Phase of the MJO. For now a very weak El Nino pattern continues to hold control.

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)

June/July WWB October WWB

 

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: As of 3/30 a weak Active Phase MJO signal was over the dateline with a moderate to strong Inactive Phase over Indonesia easing into the West Pacific. The Statistic model projects the Active Phase gone 5 days out with the Inactive Phase moving into the far West Pacific and almost to the dateline by 4/14. The dynamic model depicts the same thing but with the Inactive Phase fading 1 week out and gone by 4/14. This suggests El Nino influence of the jetstream is being suppressed and is to continue for the next 1-2 weeks.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/31) The ECMF model indicates a weak Active MJO signal over Africa. It is to track east over the next 2 weeks moving to the Indian Ocean and fading out. The GEFS depicts the same basic pattern. West wind anomalies in the KWGA attributable to El Nino are expected to get no help from the MJO anytime soon. Therefore there is to be no real fuel to supporting strengthening of the jetstream.
40 Day Upper Level Model: (3/31) A weak Active Phase was over the Central Pacific and is forecast to track east to Central America through 4/5. A moderate Inactive Phase to return to the West Pacific 4/6 moving to the East Pacific 4/28. An Active Phase to return to the West Pacific 4/23 tracking east into Central America into 5/10.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): This model is an outlier compared to the previous models. It suggests an Active Phase of the MJO was on the dateline moving east, and is to hold through 4/15. But no west anomalies of interest are to be associated with it. There is no fuel to support enhancing the jetstream and therefore storm production was minimal. The model depicts stronger west anomalies redeveloping weakly on the dateline 4/15 with a second pulse of the Active Phase of the MJO developing. It is to move east through 5/10 with solid west anomalies forecast. A very weak Inactive Phase to develop starting 5/15 but not getting solid ever. At this time this model seems overhyped.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/31) Actual temperatures continue to retreat. A pocket of 29 deg temps were holding at depth between 140E to 163W (tracking west) with the 28 deg isotherm line retracting fast to 140W. Anomaly wise things are collapsing. +1 deg anomalies extend from 172E eastward with 2 degs anomalies over one small area from 110W eastward. No warmer anomalies are present. The entire warm pool only extends no more than 75 meters deep at it's deepest point at 165W. This is the last of the El Nino subsurface reservoir. Cool subsurface waters are down at 150m and racing east now reaching the Ecuador Coast with -2 deg anomalies reaching east to 110W down at 75 meters and pushing towards the surface. Per the hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/24 the reservoir is fading and very shallow but warm water is still flowing into it from the dateline attributable to Kelvin Wave #6 with +1-2 deg anomalies. A few tiny pockets of +2-3 deg anomalies attributable to WWB #5 were fading from 120W to Ecuador and very shallow. The subsurface reservoir is shrinking steadily. Kelvin Wave #5 and #6 are resisting the total collapse of this ENSO event and the onset of La Nina, but that resistance will likely be short lived.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  (3/24) The image depicts the warm pool is gone with no anomalies remaining. -5 cm anomalies are easing east from 140W.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: (3/24 - but updated daily) Temps are gone. +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are all that is left and fading from the Galapagos (88W) to Ecuador. -1.0 deg anomalies are moving east reaching 150W with a pocket east to 130W. La Nina is coming.

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: (3/30) The latest image indicates temps are trying to hold on at +2.25 degs straddling the equator from the Galapagos west to 108W. A pocket of cooler water (0.0 degs) is from Columbia to the Galapagos. Warmer temps also continue in pockets along the coast of Peru streaming northwest and joining the main pool at the Galapagos. The whole flow actually looks a little warmer today compared to days past.
Hi-res Nino 3.4: (3/30) The latest image depicts this area is fading with no +2.25 deg anomalies remaining. It's over.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/30): Cooling is occurring near the Galapagos. Otherwise temps are holding.
Hi-res Overview:
(3/25) The El Nino signal is still very much present but is on the decline. A pocket of +2 deg above normal temps is present from 90W to 128W attributable to Kelvin Wave #5. 1-2 deg anomalies are also out at 165W attributable to Kelvin Wave #4.

Other Sources
TAO Data: (3/24) +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to 170E. 2 pockets of +1.5 deg anomalies were present, one fading at 168W and a stronger one from 138W to 95W with a pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies embedded in it from 107W and points eastward. Overall the warm water signature is decent but on the decline.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/31) Today temps were steady at +1.092 degs.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps: Today (3/31) temps were steadily fading from +1.428 degs. From 2/25-3/11 they were steady at about +2.023. They fell below the +2.1 mark on 2/25 for the first time since when this El Nino first started developing, and below the +2.5 deg range that was reached in 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.
Nino3.4 Monthly Temps The centered Nino3.4 temps for the month of Feb were +2.19 (beating '98 which was +1.89 and '83 which was +1.84). Jan readings were +2.23 (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 +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 3/12 the current was strong from the east on the equator from 100W to 140E. Anomaly wise - they were strong from the east over the same area. There were no pockets of west anomalies indicated. El Nino is in solid decline based on this data, which would be normal for this point in the El Nino lifecycle.

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data depicts peak temps reached +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 and falling from +2.0 degs in early March. The forecast indicates temps fading fast to +1.35 by 4/1, then slowing their decline before stabilizing at +0.3 degs in August before starting to rebuild in Oct. This would still be El Nino threshold temps. Hard to believe and is a minority opinion.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-March Plume depicts temps falling steadily from here forward, down to -0.5 by December.
See chart here - link. 

Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):   
Southern Oscillation Index (3/31): The daily average was falling at -19.40. The 30 day average was rising from -4.98. The 90 day average was rising from -15.45.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): On 3/31 a neutral pressure pattern was in control south of Tahiti and is forecast to hold till Mon (4/4), with modest high pressure taking over after that till Wed (4/6). But low pressure is to move south of Tahiti after that. The SOI is expected to hold then rise, then fall some based on the Tahiti contribution and offer better support to enhance El Nino and fuel the jetstream.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation): (3/31) Today's value was steady at +0.97, but peaked recently on 3/12 at +1.57.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Feb) These numbers were released March 5th and indicate the index decreased slightly to +2.12. In Feb the readings 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 and up to +1.75 in Feb. 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.

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. Based on surf, El Nino has had the expected effect producing 13 significant class swells in the North Pacific so far this season. The target is 16, but that appears ambitious.

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. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is destructively interacting with the influence on the jet stream and storm production. And this will continue until the next Active Phase of the MJO comes into.cgiay, perhaps sometime in April. With the season moving towards Spring, and SST anomalies fading in the Ninos zones, the MJOs influence will not be a strong as previous Active Phases in winter.

The focus now 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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