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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, May 23, 2015 12:41 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
Swell Potential Rating = 3.0 - California & 3.0- Hawaii
Using the 'summer' 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 5/25 thru Sun 5/31

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   

Semi-Respectable Storm Forecast SE of New Zealand
Series of Small Swells In the Water Heading Northeast

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.

On Sunday, May 24, 2015 :

  • Buoy 51201 (Waimea): Seas were 3.8 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 1.5 ft @ 13.2 secs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 5.0 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 12.4 secs. Wind northeast 2-4 kts. In Santa Barbara swell was 1.2 ft @ 11.3 secs from 259 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.0 ft @ 16.7 secs from 222 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.6 ft @ 13.1 secs from 229 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 8.4 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 5.8 ft @ 8.5 secs. Wind northwest 14-19 kts nearshore. Water temp 55.2 degs.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
On Saturday (5/23) in North and Central CA local windswell was producing surf at chest high and nearly chopped early with northwest winds blowing nearshore. Down in Santa Cruz no real swell of interest was hitting with waves thigh to maybe waist high on the sets and clean early. In Southern California up north surf was knee high and clean and weak, and that is generous. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and weak with some early more lump intermixed but generally clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting windswell in the chest high range and nearly chopped with onshore winds. The South Shore was getting rare chest high sets at top spots and clean, coming from fading Tasman Sea swell and newer New Zealand swell. The East Shore was getting east windswell at waist high and nearly chopped from northerly winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no real swell is in the water other than tiny energy from what was Typhoon Dolphin pushing towards Hawaii and California. No swell producing weather systems are forecast for the next week. It's summer. Regarding windswell, trades are suppressed relative to Hawaii and are forecast to remain that way for the next week. Relative to California a minimal fetch of 20 kt north winds are forecast over Cape Mendocino on Sat-Sun (5/24) producing limited north windswell, then fading with no return in sight. From the southern hemisphere, a small gale passed under New Zealand on Fri (5/16) generating 34 ft seas aimed east. Small swell to result for HI and CA mid-next week. Also a small gale developed on the edge of the South CA swell window on Sat-Sun (5/17) producing 26-28 ft seas aimed well north.  Small swell possible late in the Memorial Day weekend. Then another gale developed pushing under New Zealand on Mon (5/18) with seas to 44 ft, but quickly fading. More swell for HI and CA next week. And the models suggest another modest system developing Southeast of New Zealand on Mon (5/25) perhaps generating 44 ft seas aimed north-northeast. So more small swell is possible.   

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

North Pacific

Overview 
Surface Analysis
On Saturday (5/23) a weak high pressure was just off the Pacific Northwest starting to generate a weak pressure gradient along the Cape Mendocino Coast resulting in 20-25 kt north winds over a small area producing limited northerly windswell for the North and Central CA coast. No trades capable of generated east windswell for Hawaii were indicated. But a tiny cutoff low formed 750 nmiles north-northeast of the Islands generating a tiny fetch of 30 kt north winds on Fri PM (5/22) targeting Hawaii resulting in 15 ft seas. Minimal windswell is being generated and starting to impact the north shores of the Hawaiian Islands. The remnants of Typhoon Dolphin have been absorbed into a cold core low that is now circulating in the Bering Sea offering no unobscured fetch relative to our forecast area. . 

Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to hold along the California coast on Sun (5/24) into Mon AM (5/25) generating a tiny gradient and north winds at 20-25 kts over Cape Mendocino perhaps continuing to generate minimal north windswell but then fading rapidly by Mon AM. relative to Hawaii trades to remain suppressed. But north windswell is to continue into Sun (5/24) associated with a weak cutoff low previously documented north of the Islands, resulting in windswell for north facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands. This low to fade on Sun (5/24) then lifting north, perhaps starting to redevelop slightly up at 40N 150W on Tues (5/26), but the quickly fade, getting no traction on the oceans surface and producing no swell of interest.

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored. A tropical systems previous forecast developing east of Hawaii early in the workweek (5/26) has disappeared from the charts.

What was Super Typhoon Dolphin had sustained winds up to 140 kts on Sat AM (5/16) tracking northwest positioned 900 nmiles south of Tokyo Japan. Dolphin held into the evening with winds to 140 kts (161 mph) turning north.  By Sun AM (5/17) winds were down to 125 kts tracking north and then northeast by Mon AM (5/18) with winds fading from 90 kts and seas 42 ft at 23N 139E. Dolphin started accelerating in the evening with winds getting less traction and seas fading from 35.9 ft @ 24N 140W. Dolphin steadily became absorbed by a broad low pressure system tracking off the Kuril Islands and North Japan on Wed (5/20) and loosing identity 24 hours later about half way to the dateline. There is some odds of small swell pushing towards Hawaii from a very westerly direction. But by Fri (5/22) this system was in the Bering Sea and fully shadowed by the Aleutian Islands, eventually fading out there.

Hawaii: Small swell is expected starting Sun (5/24) with swell 2 ft @ 17-18 secs (3.5 ft faces) but shadowed at only the most exposed breaks from 294 degrees.  Swell peaking on Mon (5/25) at 2.5 ft @ 15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft).  Residuals fading on Tues (5/26) from 2.4 ft @ 13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction moving from 294-304 degrees  

North CA:  Swell swell to start arriving on Tues (5/26) at 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.5 ft faces) from 294 degrees. Swell building on Wed (5/27) at 3 ft @ 15 secs late (4.5 ft faces). Residuals on Thurs (5/28) fading from 3 ft @13 secs early (4 ft). Swell Direction: 294-298 degrees

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (5/23) high pressure at 1028 mbs was in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska ridging south along the US West Coast generating a weak pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino CA resulting in a small area of north winds at 20-25 kts there. Weaker winds at 15 kts were over Central CA nearshore waters. The gradient is to hold Sunday if not build in coverage with north winds to 25 kts over North CA, then fading in coverage early Monday before starting to fade. By Tues (5/26) north winds are forecast at 10 to barely 15 kts for the North and Central coasts Tues (5/26) holding Wednesday. A weak resurgence of high pressure is expected Wed PM with north winds 15+ kts for the entire coast retreating to just North and Central CA on Thurs (5/28) then holding Friday and into next weekend. In short, no break in the premature June gloom and onshore wind pattern.     

   

South Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Saturday AM (5/23) the jet was well .cgiit over the width of the South Pacific with the southern branch pushing north and forming a trough under New Zealand with 110 kts winds flowing up into it, providing some support to support low pressure development down in lower levels of the atmosphere. East of the there the jet fell hard south pushing into Antarctica and tracking east over land the whole way into the far Southeast Pacific, finally lifting north and pushing directly into the southern tip of South America. The northern branch was tracking east and positioned north of New Zealand generally tracking east on the 30S latitude line eventually running into Chile. The jet was providing no support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere other than the previously mentioned trough. Over the next 72 hours the trough south of New Zealand is to start weakening some on Sunday (5/24) with winds down to 90 kts, then rebuilding in coverage but with winds feeding it weaker still, down to 70 kts by Mon PM (5/25) slowly moving into more open waters of the Southwest Pacific offering limited support for gale development down in lower levels of the atmosphere. Beyond 72 hours this trough is to try and hold together through Wed (5/27) but winds are to be so weak (60 kts) that no support for gale development is expected. Interestingly by Fri (5/29) the entire southern branch of the jet is to be repositioned more to the north over the width of the South Pacific but really focused in the Southwest Pacific. No clear troughs are forecast, but a generally improved pattern is suggested, one that favors support for gale development. If anything perhaps a small trough is to start developing south of Tasman 180 hours out.  


Surface Analysis  
On Saturday (5/23) swell from a weak gale previously under New Zealand was starting to show at buoys in HI and pushing towards CA (see Small New Zealand gale below).  Swell from a broad but weak gale that previously was in the Southeast Pacific was tracking towards CA (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Also swell from a stronger storm previously south of New Zealand was pushing towards Hawaii and California (see Stronger New Zealand Storm below). Otherwise a broad gale was developing under New Zealand while tracking east. (see Broad New Zealand Gale below). No other swell producing fetch was in.cgiay.  

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast other than the Broad New Zealand Gale (see below) tracking east through the Southwest Pacific.

 

Small New Zealand Gale
On Fri AM (5/15) a small gale developed southwest of New Zealand producing 50 kt west winds with seas building from 32 ft at 58S 151E (218 degs CA but shadowed by New Zealand relative to HI). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the core of the fetch reporting a 15 reading average of 31.4 ft with a single reading to 36 ft where the model indicated 31 ft seas should be.  The model was right on track. In the evening the gale was fading fast with winds down to 45 kts from the west-southwest winds seas peaking at 35 ft at 58S 164E (215 degs CA and unshadowed, 200 degs HI). The satellite passed over the south edge of the fetch at 06Z Sat (5/16) and reported seas at 31.5 ft with one reading to 35.8 ft where the model suggested seas should be 30 ft. Again the model was on track.  Very small and inconsistent swell to result from HI and CA. 

Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Sat PM (5/23) with swell to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5 ft). Swell continues on Sun (5/24) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Residuals fading on Mon (5/25) from 2.5 ft @ 14 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 190-200 degrees

California:  Expect swell arrival on Tues AM (5/26) pushing 1.6 ft @ 17 secs by noon (2.5-3.0 ft).  A little more size expected on Wed (5/27) with swell to 2.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft). Residuals on Thurs (5/28) fading from 2.3 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 215-216 degrees

Southeast Pacific Gale
On Fri PM (5/15) a broad gale started building in the far Southeast Pacific as it interacted with strong high pressure at 1036 mbs located over the upper reaches of the Central South Pacific producing a gradient. 35-40 kt southwest winds were indicated with seas on the increase from 25 ft at 60S 130W.  35-40 kt southwest winds continued on Sat AM (5/16) with 28 ft sea indicated at 58S 123W aimed north-northeast. Fetch fading from 30-35 kts over a broad area aimed north in the evening with 26-28 ft seas lifting north from 53S 119W (barely in the SCal swell window at 180 degrees, 176 degs relative to NCal). 35 kt south winds continued Sun AM (5/17) producing 25 ft seas at 43S 115W (mainly targeting Southern CA 177 degs). Fetch started fading from 35 kts but aimed north and tracking due north with 27 ft seas at 42S 110W. A quick fade followed. 

SCal: Expect swell arrival on  Sun AM (5/24) building through the day to 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs late (4 ft). Swell to peak on Mon (5/25) at 2.9 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft). Swell fading on Tues (5/26) from 2.5 ft @ 14 secs early (3.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 173-181 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival only at the most exposed breaks starting Sun AM (5/24) building through the day to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs late (3.5 ft) and likely overstated. Swell to peak on Mon (5/25) at 2.5 ft @ 16 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading on Tues (5/26) from 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs early (3.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 171-180 degree     

Stronger New Zealand Storm
A gale started developing south of the Tasman Sea Sun AM (5/17) producing 50 kt west winds and 35 ft seas at 55S 156E (shadowed relative to HI by New Zealand, 221 degs CA). In the evening winds were up to 55 kts out of the southwest aimed northeast with seas building to 44 ft at 55S 166E (201 degs HI, 215 degs CA and unshadowed by Tahiti). At 06Z Mon (5/18) the Jason-2 satellite made a pass over the core of the fetch reporting a 15 reading max average of 44.7 ft with a single reading to 54.1 ft where the model projected 43 ft seas. If anything the model understated reality. By Mon AM (5/18) winds were fading fast but aimed well north-northeast at 40-45 kts with 39 ft seas at 52S 174E (196 degs HI, 215 degs NCal/SCal and unshadowed). Fetch was gone in the evening with seas from previous fetch fading from 32 ft at 52S 178W. The Jason-2 satellite made another pass at 06Z Tues(5/19) reporting seas at 32.0 ft with one reading to 37.2 where the model projected 29 ft seas. Again the model was on the low side. 

Hawaii:  Swell expected arriving in Hawaii on Sun (5/24) building through the day, perhaps reaching 1.6 ft @ 18 secs late (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell building some on Mon (5/25) pushing 2.3 ft @ 16 secs late (3.5 ft). On Tues AM (5/27) swell holding at 2.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5-4.0 ft), then fading. Swell Direction: 195-200 degrees. 

California:  Expect swell arrival late on Tues (5/26) with period 20 secs and size tiny if even rideable (1.2 ft @ 20 secs - 2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building on Wed AM (5/27) with period slowly dropping to 18 secs by 2 PM. Swell 1.7 ft @ 17-18 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell peaking Thurs AM (5/28) at 2.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 215 degrees (218 degs SCal)    

 

Broad New Zealand Gale
A broad fetch started developing under New Zealand on Fri PM (5/22) generating 40 kt southwest winds and starting to get traction resulting in 29 ft seas at 58S 155E. By Sat AM (5/23) that fetch is to become more defined with a solid area of 40 kt south-southwest winds developing generating 31 ft seas aimed northeast over a modest sized area at 53S 164E. 45 kt south winds to continue in the evening lifting north with seas building to 33 ft over a tiny area at 53S 166E. By Sun AM (5/24) this system is to start taking shape with fetch fading from 40-45 kts but now covering a solid if not large area aimed due north with 35 ft seas at 49S 171E tucked right along the Southeast New Zealand coast. In the evening a secondary fetch is to build in the lows south quadrant at 50 kts aimed north with 36 ft seas redeveloping a bit to the south at 52S 177E again aimed north. This system is to peak on Mon AM (5/25) with fetch building over a large area aimed north at 45+ kts with a a core to 55 kts from the south with seas to 42 ft at 53S 178W. Winds to be fading from 45 kts in the evening with seas fading from 46 ft at 49S 171W (with one grib square embedded with up to 49 ft seas). On Tues AM (5/26) winds are to be dropping from 35 kts from the southwest with seas fading from 36 ft at 46S 164W aimed northeast.

The models have oscillated back and forth regarding the strength of this storm, but seem to be coalescing around something peaking in the 45 ft range aimed northeast. Still, the coverage of those seas is to somewhat limited. This is a good one to monitor.           

 

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 no swell generation is forecast. Trades to remain suppressed in Hawaii and no north winds exceeding 15 kts are forecast along the California Coast suggesting no real high pressure is forecast. A reasonably broad low is forecast developing a week out (Sat 5/30) in the Gulf of Alaska producing northwest winds at 30 kts over a decent sized area. But that is 180 hours out and not believable.

MJO/ENSO Update
Note: 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. 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. 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).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) As of Sat (5/23) the daily SOI was again starting to fall negative at -17.70. The 30 day average was steadying at -16.49 (the most negative in years) and the 90 day average was falling from -10.48. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of steady Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady state Active Phase of the MJO or a building El Nino. A neutral pressure pattern was over Tahiti with stronger high pressure at 1028 mbs over Southeast Australia holding into Mon (5/25). A falling SOI is possible then. Weaker high pressure is to start building under New Zealand on Mon-Wed (5/27) as pressure falls over Australia, with the SOI likely rising then. This is almost starting to look like the typical El Nino setup relative to Australia as high pressure digs in there (perhaps setting up drought and wild fires long term). This high also sets up a gradient and steady west winds under New Zealand making for steady swell production relative to the US West Coast from the Southwest Pacific (typical of the later phases of El Nino). The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.   

Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak to modest westerly anomalies in.cgiay over the Maritime Continent fading to the weak category over the dateline then redeveloping south of Hawaii building to the strong category at 130W. These winds dissipated east of there with neutral anomalies over the Galapagos. This was a westerly winds burst, but unfortunately do nothing for Kelvin Wave development. They must be west of the dateline in the Kelvin Wave generation Area to pump warm water to depth. But, these winds could help push surface waters to the east, a secondary component of a transition towards El Nino. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated weak west winds (not just anomalies) and modest westerly anomalies over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to the dateline. Anomalies held in.cgiay from there to 130W. A week from now (5/31) a weak westerly wind anomaly pattern is to set up be over the Eastern Maritime Continent continuing over the dateline the rest of the way into the Galapagos.  This suggests the Active Phase (or at least continued westerly anomalies) is to be migrating east. We've had a huge WWB in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May and now more west anomalies continue east of there and forecast pushing into the east equatorial Pacific. There has been zero easterly anomalies so far this year. This is a good sign. But more is needed.  

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 5/22 suggests a weak Inactive MJO signal was trying to reach from the East Indian Ocean into the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests this Inactive Phase is to ease east through the West Pacific making it to the dateline 15 days out. The Dynamic model suggests the exact same thing with the Inactive Phase moving through the West Pacific perhaps building some 15 days out.  For now the models are generally in sync. The ultra long range upper level model run on 5/23 depicts a small but strong Active MJO pulse over the extreme East Pacific moving east and over Central America on 5/28. A very weak Inactive Phase is to be trying to build over the far West Pacific and forecast pushing steadily east and fading as if hits Central America on 6/15. Today's model run of this Inactive Phase is modeled much weaker than previously. An even weaker Active pattern is to track east starting 6/12 reaching the East Pacific on 7/2. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

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.  

As of the most recent low-res imagery (5/21) a modest but more defined and building warm water/El Nino-like regime continues developing over the entire equatorial Pacific, getting a better grasp with each update. Warmer water is building over Ecuador and the Galapagos, steadily per the last 5 updates, the likely result of a new strong Kelvin Wave impacting the coast there. But it's development is still not striking, but getting closer. Warm water is also building solidly along the Peruvian coast pushing north up to the equator. Warmer water extends west from the Galapagos along the equator but only reaching 2-3 degrees south of the equator until it reaches the dateline, then expanding in areal coverage. In comparison to last years massive Kelvin Wave which was hitting at this same time, the warming this year is looking much stronger. Compared to '97 (a super El Nino), it is similar if not slightly warmer near the Galapagos. TAO data indicates +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years. +1.5-2.0 deg anomalies are depicted advecting west from the Galapagos. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps have.cgiunged, up to +1.25 degs on 5/16 and now down to 0.75 degs and stabilizing. One would expect this area to start warming markedly as the big Spring Kelvin Wave starts erupting and advecting west, starting about 5/28, instead of falling. Will be monitoring for this. 

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline are warming again, up to +2 degs C, the result of a WWB earlier in May. And more warm water is falling down into it from the surface. But the big story remains very warm anomalies under the equator in the East Pacific pushing up and east into the Galapagos and Ecuador. As of 5/23 this large pocket of +4-5 deg anomalies were impacting the Galapagos Islands driven by the extended WWB that occurred 1/15-2/20 and additional strong westerly anomalies in March, feeding even more warm water into that Kelvin Wave. This Kelvin Wave was expected to start erupting over the Galapagos on roughly 5/1 peaking on 6/10. Actual data suggests it hit on 4/28 and started to erupt on the surface (5/7). Peak water temps (anomalies > 4 degs C) still extend westward to 138W, meaning there is 3.5 weeks of peak warm water still in the pipe (into 6/15). Also of interest is the apparent downwelling of more warm water on the dateline, the result of non-stop westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. Satellite data from 5/18 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170E with a core to +10 cm in pockets from 140W to the Galapagos, indicative of an open pipe with an embedded solid Kelvin Wave. But this image definitively indicates the Kelvin wave is on the decline compared to previous data. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (5/18) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 168E and the Ecuador coast (expanding some) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 175E eastward (also expanding) and +1.5 deg anomalies from 148W eastward (holding). And a core of 2 deg anomalies are indicated from 92W eastward with a small pocket of 2.5 degs anomalies now rolling off the chart. This suggests the peak of the Kelvin Wave is impacting the coast. In short, a strong Kelvin Wave is impacting the Galapagos, and likely to peak in the next 1-2 weeks. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here

It is do or die time. Either the ocean temps will warm significantly enough to kick off some degree of real El Nino, or it's more Modoki El Nino. We'll know more as we move into the expected peak warming, June 1-10. The good news is westerly anomalies are holding over the dateline, complete with previous tropical development north of the equator, suggestive perhaps of developing co.cgiing between the ocean and the atmosphere (in the classic El Nino sense). Two tropical system in the West Pacific (Noul and Dolphin) have recurved northeast, and early in the season.    

Pacific Counter Current data as of 5/17 continues to improve. The current is pushing moderately west to east over the entire equatorial Pacific with strongest velocity in the heart of the Kelvin Wave generation Area. Weaker velocities extended from the dateline to 110W, turning neutral near the Galapagos. A very weak easterly current was positioned 2-3 degrees south of the equator. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies were in control on the equator over the West Pacific reaching to the equator, then moving just north of the equator and continuing modestly to 110W. A pocket of easterly anomalies was present on and just south of the equator from 145W-170W. This continues to look like El Nino is setting up.

This data suggests a general west to east bias in the current suggesting warm water transport to the east. 

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 5/23 for the Nino 3.4 region remain off the chart but have and continue to settle down slightly. It suggests water temps are at +1.1 deg C and are to steadily warm into July reaching +1.9 degs C, and continuing to +2.6 degs by Oct and +2.85 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. This suggests that perhaps we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to perhaps a full blown El Nino, and strong at that. But it is too early to believe just yet. The same thing happened last year. The model is likely just picking up on the Kelvin Wave in flight, and will settle back down in July after it erupts over the Galapagos. Much more warm water would need to be transported east over the coming 6 months for a legit El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline), especially of the magnitude projected by the model (rivaling the all time great '97 El Nino). The mid-March consensus Plume suggests a continuation of Modoki ENSO, though some models are now suggesting something more. See the chart based version here - link. 

Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Feb 2015, and then very weak at that. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the pattern (possibly the PDO).  The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. We are in the Spring Unpredictability Barrier (March-May). The real teller will be during the month of June. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region are warming due to the arrival of a large Kelvin Wave currently in flight (see details above). If that warming is sufficient to start the classic El Nino feedback loop, then continued westerly anomalies and WWBs should continue through July-Sept and beyond, with a full scale El Nino developing. But if the cool upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops in mid-June, then it will likely be another year of the Modoki El Nino cycle. The real interesting thing is westerly anomalies and a certified WWB developed in early to mid May over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area indicating another Kelvin Wave is in development, much different than what occurred last year. But the Inactive Phase of the MJO is now trying to develop over the West Pacific (5/21), which already appears to be dampening the development of further westerly anomalies with the west winds anomaly pattern shifting to the equatorial East Pacific. The June to early July timeframe will either make or break development of a legit El Nino. If more WWBs develop, then odds of El Nino development increase. If not, then all the warm water that has moved east will effectively dissipate, much like it did in 2014. All the other signals (recurving early forming tropical systems, warm water along the US West Coast, falling SOI etc) all mean nothing unless there are solid WWBs to continuously build sea surface temp anomalies rover the Galapagos. In other words, the WWB are what drive El Nino, Everything else is symptoms.    

We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016). 

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

Details to follow...

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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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