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.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
- Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 14.4 secs from 188 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 7.0 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 16.7 secs. Wind north 2-6 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 2.0 ft @ 7.1 secs from 266 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.4 ft @ 15.0 secs from 204 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.4 ft @ 17.3 secs from 204 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 5.6 ft @ 7.0 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 16.2 secs. Wind northwest 12-14 kts. Water temp 57.7 degs.
On Tuesday (6/30) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was producing surf at thigh high with maybe a few waist high peaks and textured from northerly winds off the coast with fog a bit off the deck. Down in Santa Cruz minimal background southern hemi swell was producing sets in the waist to near chest high range at top breaks and clean but slow. In Southern California up north windswell and high tide were making for flat and unrideable surf but with clean conditions. Down south southern hemi swell was producing surf at thigh high and clean but weak and crumbled. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean. The South Shore was getting minimal background swell with waves waist to chest high on the sets and clean. The East Shore was getting no real east windswell with waves thigh high or less and chopped from light trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific no swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay or forecast. Regarding windswell, trades blowing from the east at 15 kts just east of Hawaii, bu not real windswell of interest was being reported at the buoys. That pattern is to fade out by Thurs (7/2) with no immediate return forecast. Relative to California, weak high pressure induced north winds were blowing over North CA at 20 kts resulting in minimal local north windswell and expected to lift up to Cape Mendocino Wednesday and build slightly to barely 25 kts holding through Friday (7/3) then fade out. No real change in windswell size expected through the work week. For the southern hemisphere, a small gale was south of New Zealand on Mon (6/22) with 28 ft seas but aimed barely east. Another tiny system developed just along the New Zealand coast tracking north on Wed (6/24) with 32 ft seas aimed north targeting Hawaii best. Small swell possible there by Wed (7/1) and the US West Coast by the weekend. And a decent sized gale developed on the eastern edge of the SCal swell window Thurs PM (6/25) with 32 ft seas aimed east. Bare minimal background swell to result for SCal on Wed (7/1). But of more interest is a gale that tracked east under New Zealand with 37 ft seas on Sun (6/28) aimed east, with another stronger one that followed on Tues (6/30) with 48 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east. Swell is in the water from both pushing towards all the usual Pacific targets. But beyond no swell producing weather systems are forecast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Saturday (6/27) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. But low pressure was pushing east from the dateline at 1000 mbs generating 20 kt northwest winds and 11 ft seas targeting Hawaii. No windswell likely. Otherwise modest high pressure at 1024 mbs was centered west of Oregon generating 20 kt north winds along the North California coast generating minimal north windswell down into Central CA but with not optimal conditions. Relative to Hawaii, the same high pressure system was generating trades at 15 kts east of Hawaii producing minimal east windswell.
Over the next 72 hours the gradient is to lift north with north winds relocating to Cape Mendocino on Wed (7/1) at 25-30 kts generating more small windswell windswell then fading to 20-25 kts Thurs-Sat (7/4) with windswell holding in the small range. A weak eddy flow (south winds) to develop Wednesday for Central CA holding into the weekend. Relative to Hawaii trades are to fall off east of the Islands on Wed (7/1) and remain suppressed through the weekend. No real windswell is expected for Hawaii.
Also another low pressure system is to be tracking Japan over the dateline to a point 1200 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii on Sat (7/4) generating 20 kt northwest winds but not enough to result in windswell (due to decay).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored in exposed waters of the Pacific. But with the expected development of a significant Westerly Wind Burst in the West Pacific, it's only a mater of time before a tropical system results.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (6/30) high pressure at 1026 mbs was off the Oregon coast ridging over North CA creating a weak gradient with north winds 20+ kts over North CA. That gradient is to lift north on Wednesday with winds near 25 kts with the eddy flow returning to Central CA and holding into mid-Saturday, with the gradient and north winds fading then. But the eddy flow to continue into Monday fading to calm on Tuesday (7/7).
On Tuesday AM (6/30) a .cgiit flow continued in control of the Southwest Pacific but not a bad as weeks past. The southern branch of the jet had formed a modest trough under New Zealand pushing northeast with it's apex at 50S and with 80 kts winds flowing up into it offering weak odds for support of gale development there. East of there the jet was falling southeast with a ridge in control of the entire Southeast Pacific offering no upper level support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours a weak ridge is to develop over New Zealand on Thurs (7/2) while a new trough pushes hard north south of Tasmania with 110 kt winds feeding up into it and eventually pushing clear of Southern New Zealand on Fri (7/3) while fading out. Support for gale development likely but targeting the Tasman Sea (Fiji) rather than the Southwest Pacific. Beyond 72 hours yet another trough is to start building just south of New Zealand on Sat (7/4) 90 kt winds feeding up into it's apex with more 100 kt winds pushing hard north up into it on Mon-Tues (7/7) offering good support for gale development there. At the same time a large and strong ridge is to be building over the Southeast Pacific shutting down storm formation in that area. So for now, the Southwest Pacific is to remain the primary area supportive of gale production.
On Tuesday AM (6/30) a broad gale low was in control of the Southwest Pacific (remnants of the 2nd New Zealand Storm below) with high pressure at 1028 mbs over Southeast Australia. Weak high pressure was over the far Southeast Pacific. Small swell from a cut-off gale east of New Zealand was pushing towards Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Cut-Off Gale below). Even smaller sideband swell from a gale due south of California late this past week was pushing north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Swell from a pair of solid swell producing storms in the coveted New Zealand swell corridor relative to Tahiti and North CA was pushing northeast (see 1st and 2nd New Zealand Storms below).
Also a small cut-off gale formed just east of New Zealand on Wed AM (6/24) producing 45 kt south to southeast winds over a tiny area aimed north with seas building from 23 ft. In the evening 45 kt south winds continued pushing north with 32 ft seas building over an infinitesimal sized area area at 40S 174W. Fetch was fading from 35 kts Thurs AM (6/25) with seas from previous fetch fading over a tiny area from 29 ft at 35S 170W, very far to the north. This system was gone after that. The tiny footprint of this system will be it's limiting factor for everywhere but Tahiti.
Small swell is also possible for Hawaii starting at sunset on Tues (6/30) with period 16 secs. Swell peaking on Wed (7/1) at 2 ft @ 15 secs (3 ft). Swell fading Thurs (7/2) from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees.
Background energy for the Southern California starting Fri (7/3) but likely not rideable peaking Sat (7/4) at 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) fading Sun (7/5) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) from 217 degrees.
Background energy for the North California starting Fri (7/3) but likely not rideable peaking Sat (7/4) at 1.7 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft) fading Sun (7/5) from 1.6 ft @ 15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) from 216 degrees.
1st New Zealand Storm
A storm pushed south of Tasmania on Sat AM (6/27) with 45-50 kt west winds generating 43 ft seas at 52S 141E targeting only Fiji. Fetch rebuilt some in the evening still 45 kts but over a little larger area aimed east-northeast with 38 ft seas at 54S 154E barely in the 221 degree window relative to North and Central CA (222 degs SCal) and unshadowed by Tahiti and shadowed in HI by New Zealand. The Jason-2 satellite passed over the eastern edge of this area at 21Z and reported a 15 reading average of 38.3 ft with one reading to 42.1 ft where the model indicated 37 ft seas. This was a bit better than what the model indicated. Fetch was fading from 40 kt Sun AM (6/28) with seas from previous fetch fading from 35 ft at 56S 165E (215 degs NCal and unshadowed, 216 degs South CA and starting to be shadowed, and on the 201 degree unshadowed path to Hawaii. 40 kt southwest winds held into Sunday evening aimed well to the northeast with 33 ft seas at 56S 172E (196 degs HI, 213 degs NCal and unshadowed and aimed right up the GC path there, 214 degs SCal and shadowed). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the western periphery at 3Z reporting seas of 29.3 ft with one reading to 37.0 ft where the model indicated seas should be 28 ft. Again, the model was under hyping it some. 30-35 kt southwest winds were fading Mon AM (6/29) with a broad area of 28 ft seas fading at 54S 177E (195 degs HI, 213 degs SCal and shadowed, 211 degs NCal and starting to become shadowed). This system was gone after that.
Good energy is pushing northeast though a long ways away targeting mainly the US West Coast and Tahiti with sideband energy for Hawaii. And the model was right on track if not a bit conservative.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sat (7/4) in the morning with period 20 secs and size building steadily through the day peaking at 2.3 ft @ 19 secs at sunset (4.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). Swell to hold nicely Sun AM (7/5) at 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4.0 ft with sets to 5 ft) with period dropping to 17 secs at sunset. Swell fading Mon AM (7/6) from 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195-201 degrees with most energy 201 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon at 10 PM (7/6) with period 20 secs and size tiny but starting to build. Period dropping to 19 secs by noon Tues (7/7) with small but rideable energy starting to show. Period turning to 18 secs at 1 AM Wed (7/8) with swell 2.6 ft @ 18 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 6 ft) and well rideable swell holding through the morning, and still decent into the afternoon 17 secs at 3 PM. Residuals on Thurs AM (7/9) with period 16 secs and size fading and becoming overridden by the next swell (see below). Swell Direction: 214-221 degrees with peak size at 219 degs.
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues at 1 AM (7/7) with swell 1.6 ft @ 20 secs (3.0 ft) and size tiny but starting to build. Period dropping to 19 secs by 3 PM with small but rideable energy starting to show at 1.8 ft @ 19 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Period turning to 18 secs at 4 AM Wed (7/8) with swell 2.6 ft @ 18 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 6 ft) and well rideable swell holding through the day as period turns to 17 secs at 6 PM. Residuals on Thurs AM (7/9) with period 16-17 secs and size fading and becoming overridden by the next swell (see below). Swell Direction: 213-220 degrees with peak size at 218 degs.
2nd Stronger New Zealand Storm
Another small but potent storm developed south of Tasmania on Mon AM (6/29) with 50+ kt southwest winds over a tiny area and 39 ft seas building at 55S 144E and moving into the NCal/SCal swell window from 222 degrees. Fetch was fading from 55 kts (up to 60 kts at 18Z) in the evening tracking east-northeast with 48 ft seas at 54S 156E and again unshadowed relative to NCal (219 degrees) and SCal (218 degrees) but shadowed by NZ relative to HI. The Jason-2 satellite passed over the western core of this storm at 4Z Tues and reported a 15 reading average of 47.0 ft with one reading to 51.4 ft where the model suggested seas should be 45 ft. The model was right on track. 45 kt southwest winds were fading over a solid area pushing under New Zealand on Tues AM (6/30) generating 39 ft seas at 50S 165E (220 degs NCal and SCal unshadowed) and barely moving into the HI swell window at 201 degrees. Fetch is to be fading from barely 40 kts in the evening still aimed well northeast with 31 ft seas at 50S 180W (197 degs HI, 214 degs NCal and unshadowed, 216 degs SCal and starting to become shadowed). 35 kt southwest fetch to fade Wed AM (7/1) aimed well northeast with 30 ft seas at 51S 175W (190 degs HI, SCal 211 degs and shadowed, 211 degs NCal and barely shadowed). In the evening a tiny area of 45 kt southwest fetch to redevelop further south with 32 ft seas at 56S 167W (184 degs HI, 205 degs SCal and mostly unshadowed, 204 degs NCal and shadowed), This system to be gone after that.
Solid swell production has already occurred and right on the heels of the previous storm. Most energy to be focused on Tahiti up into the US West Coast but with sideband energy relative to Hawaii. And again the model is underhyping it slightly.
Hawaii: Swell arrival starting Mon AM (7/6) with period 20 secs and swell building late to 1.9 ft @ 19 secs (3.6 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Swell to peak on Tues (7/7) at 2.1 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Residuals on Wed (7/8) wit period 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 195-201 degree
Southern CA: Swell arrival expected on Tues (7/7) at 11 AM with period 22-23 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Period turning to 22 secs at 10 PM and size becoming noticeable if it were not buried in the previous swell. Swell hitting 21 secs at 7 AM Wed (7/8). Decent swell to finally start showing near 4 PM as period hits 20 secs. Swell peaking Thurs (7/9) starting at 4 AM as period hits 19 secs holding solid through the day with period dropping to 18 secs at 3 PM. Size estimated at 3.2 ft @ 18-19 secs (6 ft with sets to 7.5 ft). Solid swell still on Fri (7/10) with period 17 secs all day. Residuals on Sat (7/11) with period 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 213-220 degrees with peak energy 218 degrees
Northern CA: Swell arrival expected on Tues (7/7) at 2 PM with period 22-23 secs and size tiny if even noticeable. Period turning to 22 secs on Wed (7/8) at 1 AM and size becoming noticeable if it were not buried in the previous swell hitting 21 secs at 10 AM. Decent swell to finally start showing near 8 PM as period hits 20 secs. Swell peaking Thurs (7/9) starting at 7 AM as period hits 19 secs holding solid through the day with period dropping to 18 secs at 6 PM. Size estimated at 3.2 ft @ 18-19 secs (6 ft with sets to 7.5 ft). Solid swell still on Fri (7/10) with period 17 secs all day. residuals on Sat (7/11) with period 15-16 secs. Swell Direction: 212-219 degrees with peak energy 218 degrees
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours high pressure is to be lifting northeast in the Gulf of Alaska with no support for the local gradient projected over North California and no windswell expected into Wed (7/8). A light local flow to hold over North and Central CA. Warmer water appears to be taking root and is to hold for the next week.
Relative to Hawaii trades to remain weak then possibly rebuilding slightly on Tues (7/7) at 15 kts east of the Islands perhaps offering a hint of east windswell.
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 Tuesday (6/30) the daily SOI was still down but giving up some ground now at -21.50 having bottomed out on Friday (6/26) at -48.90. The 30 day average was falling from -10.30 and the 90 day average was falling from -9.03. The near term trend based on the daily and 30 day average was indicative of strong Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO if not a modest El Nino base state. High pressure at 1028 mbs was over Southeast Australia while a neutral pressure pattern was over Tahiti. Beyond solid high pressure is to hold over Southeast Australia for the work week while a weak low pressure pattern possibly builds over Tahiti. Negative daily SOI's are indicated at least for the next 3-4 days. But high pressure is to then start building under Tahiti over the weekend into Tues (7/7) with weaker pressure over Australia with the SOI likely rising. High pressure over Australia could help the Southern Hemi Booster Index (a component of strong El Ninos) and supportive of storm development under New Zealand. The theory suggests it is high pressure over this area that 'boosts' a regular El Nino into Super El Nino status.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated strong west anomalies were over the Maritime Continent reaching to the dateline, with neutral anomalies from there extending south of Hawaii to the Galapagos Islands. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a similar picture with moderate to strong west winds (not just anomalies) between 140E-175E and west anomalies reaching to 175W. This is a nice sized WWB but not exceptional yet. Neutral anomalies were east of there to the Galapagos. The GFS model 00 hr Hindcast indicated west winds at 17 kts in.cgiay in one pocket over the Central KWGA. This WWB is exactly as hoped for to reinforce warm water movement to the east. Even more impressive is that low pressure is positioned both north and south of this WWB roughly at 160E and both are forecast to build over the next 60 hours and holding into about Fri AM (7/3) with the peak occurring at 18Z on Thurs (7/2) with west winds north and south of the equator at 155E at 25 kts. This is significant and testifies to the strength of this WWB. It's been a very long time since we've seen something like this. This Active Phase of this MJO is impressive. A week from now (7/8) strong westerly anomalies are forecast continuing over the northern half of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area pushing to 160E the redeveloping on the dateline at moderate velocities reaching 1/2 way to the Galapagos. Pockets of westerly anomalies are forecast east of there into the Galapagos. A huge WWB occurred in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May with weaker but still solid west anomalies continuing into late May while easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. West anomalies held through 6/10 (per TAO data) fading to neutral for 8 day, then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. Zero easterly anomalies have been reported so far this year. And now were in a significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 and forecast to hold for 10 days (7/6). Still more westerly anomalies are needed into Sept if a strong El Nino is to develop, as is projected by the long term models and based on evolving atmospheric signals.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 6/29 suggests a moderate Active MJO signal was in control over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Active Phase is peaking and is to push steadily east over the next 15 days while withering, gone 10 days out with the Inactive Phase starting to move in from the Indian Ocean 15 days out. The Dynamic model depicts a steady state strong Active Phase in the West Pacific inching east for the next 15 days and giving up only limited strength. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to set up in the Indian Ocean making no east headway. This is great news. But, the presence of regular pulses of the MJO is not an indication of super El Nino status per past experience. Rather a steady state Weak Active Phase or a building El Nino base state with a fading MJO signal would be more in-line with past experience (at least that's the way it.cgiayed out in '97). But each El Nino has it own peculiarities. Phase diagrams from the ECMF and GEFS suggest this active phase to peak on 7/3 then collapse and hold in.cgiace in the West Pacific for the next 2 weeks (these are both dynamic models). The ultra long range upper level model run on 6/30 depicts a moderate Active pattern over the dateline and is expected to track east over the equatorial Pacific through 7/20 then gone. A moderate Inactive Phase is to follow developing in the west starting 7/15 making it to the East Pacific by 8/6. As of right now, there are no signs of a upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave lifecycle, as developed last year at this time and eventually squashed continued evolution of last years El Nino. That upwelling phase was heralded by the Inactive Phase of the MJO. Instead this year, westerly anomalies are back in the picture with the Inactive Phase between 6/10-6/18 being all but non-existent anomaly wise. With the current WWB developing strong, it adds fuel to speculation that a strong El Nino might be in development. But the forecast development of the Inactive Phase in mid to late July could be where the upwelling phase materializes. A well entrenched westerly wind anomaly pattern is required during the June/July timeframe if something that wants to rival the '97 El Nino is to develop. 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 (6/29) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined warm water/El Nino-like regime in.cgiace and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. It depicts a generalized expansion of coverage near the Galapagos over the last 15 days extending west into the edge of the NINO 3.4 region, and now making some progress into it and also down the Peruvian Coast and up into Central America. Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region do not look to be getting warmer, but are instead fueling expansion of coverage over the entire region. That is not a concern given what's building subsurface (more below). Along the West African Coast, cool water continues holding it's coverage there, though moderating some in terms of velocity. In the past we've used this as a sign of impending Inactive Phase upwelling in the Galapagos area. But that does not appear to be the case now. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino on this date, today's image depicts a similar warm water pattern, both in terms of coverage and absolute temps. But the latest image continues to depict comparative weaknesses in temperature in the southern Nino 1.2 region and in the entry into the Nino 3.4 region compared to '97. The cold water African signature is also present in the '97 image, though stronger in coverage. It is the permanent set up of a Inactive like Phase over West Africa and a semi permanent Active State over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area tracking slowly east, and high pressure locked over Southeast Australia that we are looking for. still our suspicions are that all the weaknesses above in this years event are to only compound some over time compared to '97.
TAO data indicates +1.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline. There is an embedded area of +2 deg anomalies expanding from 100W-128W and continuing to build to the west in coverage with a new pocket of +1.5 deg anomalies at 140W. A key component of the later phases of El Nino is the migration east not only subsurface waters, but also surface waters forced by continued anomalous westerly winds pushing across the dateline. That is not occurring yet with the western border of +1.5 deg anomalies moving from 172W-176W to 178W as of today's image.
The most recent hi-res data (6/30) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are holding while advecting west. In the past 5 days a broader area of warm anomalies is deepening along the immediate coast of Northern Chile up into Peru and the Galapagos with 5-6 pockets at +4-5 degs above normal embedded in that. A peak station reading at the Galapagos occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had maxed out. But then, +4.6 deg anomalies were reported 6/9, besting the previous peak, and then stair stepped up from there, to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps fading slightly since, currently holding at +4.2 degs above normal. But this is not a concern with much more warm water pushing east at depth (see below). Given the building of warm waters along Peru we're beginning to think an expansion of core coverage was starting to occur. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index spiked at +2.3 degs on 5/23, then fell bottoming out at +0.55 degs June 1, and then quickly climbed back to +2.45 degs on 6/14, holding at +2.1-2.2 degs. The Nino 1.2 area is not of prime concern, and is very volatile and noisy. As warm water from a stronger Kelvin Wave lurking just under the surface impacts the Galapagos shortly, temps should spike again. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggests water temps have held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April. But in the past 5 days are on the increase pushing +1.5 degs as of 6/30. One would expect NINO 3.4 to start warming as warming water from the 1.2 region starts advecting west, and there's more evidence suggesting that is happening now.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are holding at +1-2 degs above normal but continue to shrink in coverage for the moment. Warmer water previously there is tracking east reinforcing a warm reservoir moving into Ecuador. Still, warm water continues downwelling from the surface, the result of ongoing westerly anomalies on the surface on the dateline and west of there. So the pipe is open and much more warm water is expected to start spilling into it driven by a major WWB occurring at the surface now. But the big story remains very warm anomalies under the equator in the East Pacific, pushing east into the Galapagos and Ecuador. A large pool of +5-6 degs anomalies is holding centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 120W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 138W. This pocket is a mixture of warm water driven by an extended WWB that occurred Jan-March.cgius water from an additional WWB in early May. This suggests there are not weeks but perhaps 2 months of warm water still in the pipe. And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline, the result of westerly anomalies that have been in.cgiay since the May WWB in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to 6/10. A bit of a stall in westerly anomalies occurred 6/10-6/18, but has now restarted and with much vigor, and is expected to rapidly deepen. This Kelvin Wave should peak on Aug 1, with presumably a third starting to build now. Let the good times roll.
This is exactly how the '97 El Nino.cgiayed out, with not individual Kelvin Waves impacting the coast, but a huge pool of warm water developing at this time of year in the East Pacific creating continuous upwelling of warm water off Ecuador, with continuous westerly anomalies in the KWGA feeding yet more warm water into that subsurface pool for 6+months. This is a significant development.
Satellite data from 6/22 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of 170W with a core at +15 cm at 90W and +10 cm anomalies from 125W eastward. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with embedded and merging Kelvin Waves forming into a large subsurface reservoir. This is a classic major El Nino setup, not a standard El Nino.
The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (6/22) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 165W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 155W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 145W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 130W with a new peak at 2.5 degs at 98W The first Kelvin Wave has impacted the Ecuador Coast and the next wave of warming is building behind looking every bit as strong. This is a very good sign with yet more westerly anomalies and a new Kelvin Wave likely behind that. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 6/27 continues solid, though down some from the last update on 6/17 in some respects. The current is pushing moderately strongly west to east over the far west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area to about the dateline with modest current reaching south of Hawaii only on the north side of the equator and eventually hitting the Galapagos. Weak to modest easterly current was 3 degrees was on the equator from the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies were in control on the equator over the far West Pacific, fading to modest strength and reaching over the dateline and all but gone south of Hawaii. East anomalies are now in.cgiay and strong between 130W-160W. This is not good. And compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 west velocities and anomalies were raging from 120W-180W. Based on this data, unless something huge happens in the next week or two and holds for a month, there is no way this years event will compare to '97 at least from a current perspective. Suspect all this is a function of the strength of westerly anomalies, which are just now on the rebound after a 8 day pause. But they still have a long ways to go.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 6/30 for the Nino 3.4 region are again on the rise slightly. It suggests water temps are at +1.25 deg C (confirmed) and are to steadily warm continuing to +1.85 degs by Oct (previously +1.75 degs 6/28) peaking at +2.0-+2.05 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. Peak temps have stabilized at +2.00 degs. This suggests we are moving from a multi-year steady state Modoki event to a full blown moderate.cgius El Nino, maybe bordering on the strong side. But it is too early to believe just yet. The model overhyped it last year, then the atmospheric picture collapsed in June. That does not appear likely this year, but and expected Inactive Phase of the MJO in July could still have unknown affects. Much more warm water would need to be transported east over the coming 5 months for a strong El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline), especially of the magnitude projected by the model. The mid-May consensus Plume suggests development of a moderate El Nino with peak temps 1.2-1.5 degs above normal. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts 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. Those were in effect primers to help move the atmosphere out of a perpetual La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay for the past 15 years. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in.cgiay with some greater force dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern (likely the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region have been warming solidly through June due to the arrival of the first of two Kelvin Wave (see details above) and advecting west over the entire equatorial Pacific into the Nino 3.4 region. Water temp anomalies there are well within El Nino parameters. Westerly anomalies, which stalled for 8 days in mid-June due to the passage of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, have resumed and are building, now at WWB strength and forecast to hold into early July aided by the return of the Active Phase of the MJO interacting with an El Nino base state, eliminating previous concerns about a possible appearance of the cool upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Westerly anomalies and a certified WWB that developed in early May over the Kelvin Wave Generation Area have generated a second Kelvin Wave which merged with remnants of the first Kelvin Wave, creating a large warm reservoir lodged just west of the Galapagos and appears to be starting to erupting on track with projections for the first week of July. At this point we believe warming in the equatorial Pacific is sufficient to start the classic El Nino feedback loop, evidenced by cooling temps off Africa and a solid North Pacific jetstream pattern (when there should be none). If so, then westerly anomalies/WWBs should continue through July-Sept and beyond, modulated by the MJO with at least full scale El Nino developing. All this is very positive. But we will remain cautious.
Previous concerns about a possible fall-back to a Modoki El Nino pattern have passed. A si.cgie glance a the SST Anomaly charts can tell that. The hot topic then becomes how strong this developing El Nino will become. And that is purely a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. If we survived this most recent Inactive Phase of the MJO with no easterly anomalies developing (and in reality, no trades at all), as we move deeper into the year with an evolving base El Nino state, then any future Inactive Phases of the MJO cycle should have even less impact. This is required for a major El Nino to develop. And this is what we are considering to be a very real possibility. The first milestone in moving towards that goal is monitoring the strength of westerly anomalies in the KWGA for the next 2-3 weeks as the Active Phase of the MJO tracks over that area. Part 2 is monitoring the impact of the large Kelvin Wave poised to erupt over the Galapagos. Two significant events occurring simultaneously, both with the capacity to significant enhance our developing El Nino. The effects of Kelvin Wave eruption (warming ocean surface more) will help to reinforce the atmospheric teleconnection, modifying the Walker Circulation and feeding the northern hemi jetstream, which in turn will reinforce the base El Nino state, which in turn will support more westerly anomalies over the KWGA. In essence, the system will move into a mode of reinforcing itself, a self perpetuating feedback loop. If sufficiently strong, that should also fuel the supposed Southern Hemi Booster Index, which in turn could supercharge the feedback loop.
Of course all this is speculation. Regardless what the models declare, it isn't real till it actually occurs. Models and theories are fallible (as was evidenced last year). But, as things currently stand, we appear to be close to crossing over a threshold. The next possible choke point would be the projected Inactive Phase of the MJO in mid-to-late July. If that is a non-event, much like the mid-June one, then a significant El Nino event would become more likely. If it somehow shuts down westerly anomalies, and a upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops, all bets are off. Assuming that does not happen, how will this years event compare to '97 or '82? A wild guess says somewhere between the two. We're not seeing the strength and duration of westerly anomalies this year as compared to '97 (see analysis here). Conversely the '82 event didn't even really get going till the June-July timeframe. We're way ahead of that, but not quite seeing the vigor of '97 at this point in time. Interestingly, the amount of warm water in.cgiay on the equator at the start of this year (the results of 2014's failed El Nino bid) actually gave us a starting base state well ahead of '97, somewhat negating concerns about weaker WWBs this year. Still we're guessing we're somewhere between the 82' and '97 event, with very good atmospheric momentum in.cgiay, and that's a good.cgiace to be unless you own beach front property in California.
We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming of East Pacific equatorial waters for Sept-Dec 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
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system are forecast.
Details to follow...
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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