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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 8:38 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 7/6 thru Sun 7/12

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   

1st of Two Swells Moves into California
2nd One Peaks in Hawaii - WWB Still Controls WPac

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 Wednesday, July 8, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.9 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 3.0 ft @ 17.0 secs from 187 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 14.0 secs with swell 1.2 ft @ 19.2 secs. Wind east 2-4 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.6 ft @ 17.6 secs from 221 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.5 ft @ 16.0 secs from 213 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.1 ft @ 20.1 secs from 214 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.6 ft @ 14.0 secs with swell 1.0 ft @ 20.0 secs. Wind southwest 2-4 kts. Water temp 61.2 degs.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Tuesday (7/7) in North and Central CA locally generated north windswell was interacting with southern hemi swell producing surf up to waist high at exposed breaks and textured from a light southerly flow. Down in Santa Cruz southern hemi swell was hitting and occasionally producing sets in the near had high range at better breaks though mostly waist to chest high and clean.  In Southern California up north windswell and southern hemi swell were interacting to occasionally produce some thigh to waist high waves and clean. Down south southern hemi swell was producing surf at chest high on the sets and clean early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with a few thigh high sets. The South Shore was getting the second New New Zealand swell with waves 2 ft overhead and lined up on the sets and clean. The East Shore had some east windswell with waves waist high and chopped from trades. 

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no swell producing weather systems were in.cgiay or forecast.  But rather strong tropical activity was occurring in the far West Pacific and worth monitoring. Regarding windswell, trades were picking up over and east of Hawaii and expected to produce some windswell, especially if a tropical low develops as forecast ultimately tracking north of the Islands by the weekend. Another thing to monitor. Relative to California, a weak pressure pattern was in control with no north winds or pressure gradient in effect and none forecast until a week out. For the southern hemisphere swell from a gale that tracked east under New Zealand with 37 ft seas on Sun (6/28) aimed east was starting to show in California. A stronger storm followed on Tues (6/30) with 48 ft seas over a tiny area aimed east. Swell is in the water peaking in Hawaii and pushing towards the US West Coast. Beyond no large scale swell producing weather systems are forecast.   

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

North Pacific

Overview 
Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (7/7) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. A broad weak high pressure cell was covering the Central and East North Pacific at 120-124 mbs. A weak low at 1018 mbs was off the California coast. Neither was producing fetch capable of generating windswell for California. Relative to Hawaii, the same high pressure system was too weak to generate any trades of interest by itself. But 3 tropical low were tracking south of Hawaii with the 2 positioned southeast of Hawaii were forming a gradient with the high north of the Islands resulting in the production of east winds at 15 kts and minimal east windswell targeting east shores of the Hawaiian Islands. The east most low in the string was showing signs of deepening.

Over the next 72 hours a weak pressure pattern is to hold off California no windswell expected to be produced. A weak eddy flow (southwest winds) to continue relative to Central CA through the workweek.  Relative to Hawaii tropical low pressure is to continue interacting with high pressure centered 900 nmiles north of the Islands being fed by the Active Phase of the MJO building from the West equatorial Pacific eastward. Trades to continue at 15 kts with east windswell developing along exposed east facing shores turning slowly northeast. And the tropical low furthest east of the Islands is to continue building while lifting northwest (see Tropical Update) resulting in building windswell along east and northeast facing shores.    

 

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

 

Tropical Update (as of 12Z Tues 7/7)
Tropical Storm Linfa was in the China Sea about 150 nmiles south-southwest of Taiwan tracking north with winds to 50 kts . It is to build to 60 kts on Wed (7/8) while turning west and moving into mainland China late in the evening. No swell production relative to our forecast area is expected.

Typhoon Chan-Hom was 750 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines and making a turn to the northwest with winds 80 kts. Slow steady strengthening is forecast as this system bears down on the small islands east of northern Taiwan with winds reaching 125 kts on Thurs (7/9). This system is forecast continuing on a northwest track eventually moving into China south of Shanghai on Sat AM (7/11) with winds near 110 kts. No recurvature to the northeast is forecast. This system is the result of a significant Westerly Wind Burst currently occurring in the West Pacific.  

Typhoon Nangka was 450 nmiles east of Guam with winds 120 kts tracking west-northwest. Strengthening is forecast with Nangka peaking Wednesday at 140 kts (161 mph) at super typhoon status northeast of Guam. Winds to hold decently while this system eventually start turning north in open waters of the far West Pacific with winds down to 105 kts on Sun (7/12). The GFS model suggests it is to continue tracking north bearing down on Central Japan on Tues (7/14) with solid winds still in.cgiay. It's is unknown whether it will make a turn to the northeast, but a ridge of high pressure east of Japan will likely drive it at least along the Japan coast bound for the Kurils before any recurvature would seem likely.

Hawaii - The models continue to suggest some form of tropical system developing 700 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island late Tues (7/7) or early Wed (7/8) and building slightly in intensity while tracking east-northeast reaching a point well north of Big Island late on Fri (7/10) and starting to fade. Windswell to possibly result but no other affects from this system are expected with it clear north of the HAwaiian Islands. Something to monitor.

 

California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday (7/7) high pressure at 1024 mbs was well retreated westward from California having no effect on California waters with a weak eddy flow in control. Northwest winds to build to 10 kts on Wednesday then fading with a light winds pattern forecast through the weekend. High pressure is to start building east on Tues (7/15) with northwest winds building over north and Central CA to 20 kts early.

   

South Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Tuesday AM (7/7) the southern branch of the jet was lifting north under New Zealand though winds were only 60 kts forming a weak trough and offering no real support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. From there the jet was tracking solidly southeast into Antarctic Ice over the Southeast Pacific actively suppressing gale formation. The northern branch of the jet was tracking east over Northern New Zealand on the 28S latitude line at 130 kts continuing on that heading the whole way to Chile producing no troughs and offering no support for gale development. Over the next 72 hours the New Zealand trough is to be gone by Thurs AM (7/9) with a new ridge in control from under Tasmania the whole way across the South Pacific down at roughly 65S shutting down support for gale development. A very .cgiit jetstream flow is to be in control (not good). Beyond 72 hours no change is forecast with no troughs projected offering no support for gale development.

Surface Analysis  
On Tuesday AM (7/7) a broad but weak area of low pressure was circulating southeast of New Zealand generating 30-35 kt south winds off the southeast tip of New Zealand but getting no traction yet. East of there any winds that were circulating were pushing southeast towards Antarctica offering no indications of producing swell aimed at our forecast area. Otherwise tiny swell from a gale that was previously in the Tasman Sea on Sat (7/4) was pushing towards Fiji and Hawaii (see Fiji Gale below). Of more interest was swell from a pair of solid swell producing storms previously in the coveted New Zealand swell corridor pushing northeast with energy from the first one starting to hit California and swell from the second hitting Hawaii (see 1st and 2nd New Zealand Storms below).

Over the next 72 hours no real swell producing fetch of interest is forecast with a total shutdown of the South Pacific in progress.

 

Fiji Gale
A gale developed south of Tasmania Fri PM (7/3) with 40 kt southwest winds and seas building to 26 ft at 55S 143E targeting Fiji. Those winds to pushed northeast still at 40 kts on Sat AM (7/4) generating 30 ft seas at 53S 149E. By the evening fetch is to be fading fast from 30-35 kts just southwest of southern New Zealand with a small area of 26 ft seas fading at 50S 158E targeting only east New Zealand. No energy is expected to be pushing into the US swell window other than well filtered energy targeting Hawaii via Fiji.  

Hawaii: Small swell arriving on Thurs (7/9) building to 1.4 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (7/10) 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (7/11) from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs early (2 ft). Swell Direction: 215 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. 

South CA: Period turning to 18 secs at 1 AM Wed (7/8) with swell 2.2 ft @ 18 secs (4.0 ft with sets to 5.0 ft) and well rideable swell holding through the morning, and still decent into the afternoon with period down to 17 secs at 3 PM (2.3 ft @ 17 secs - 4.0 ft with sets to 5.0 ft). Residuals fading on Thurs AM (7/9) with swell fading from 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft) and becoming overridden by the next swell (see below).  Swell Direction: 214-221 degrees with peak size at 219 degs.     

North CA: Period turning to 18 secs at 4 AM Wed (7/8) with swell 2.0 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft) and well rideable swell holding through the day as period turns to 17 secs at 6 PM (2.2 ft @ 17 secs - 3.5-4.0 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs AM (7/9) fading from 2 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft) and becoming overridden by the next swell (see below).  Swell Direction: 213-220 degrees with peak size at 218 degs.   

     

2nd 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.  The WindSAT satellite confirmed winds at 60 kts at 18Z. Fetch was fading from 55 kts 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 was 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). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the core of the fetch at 2Z and reported seas 32.0 ft with one reading to 35.6 ft where the model suggested 31 ft seas. The model was about right on track. 35 kt southwest fetch faded Wed AM (7/1) aimed well northeast with 29 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 30 ft seas at 55S 165W (184 degs HI, 205 degs SCal and mostly unshadowed, 204 degs NCal and shadowed). Maybe one more spurt of 29 ft seas to hold into Thurs AM (7/2) at 55S 159W and then this system is to be gone.  

Solid swell production has 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. Swell arrival in Hawaii was larger than expected and looking most solid with pure swell 3 ft @ 17 secs (5.0 ft with sets to 6.5 ft per the buoys) and visual confirmation put sets at 3 ft overhead or better at top breaks with good bathymetry.

Hawaii: Residuals on Wed (7/8) fading from 3 ft @ 15 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). dribbles on Thurs (7/9) fading from 1.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (2 ft). 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 (1.3 ft @ 20 secs - 2.5-3.0 ft) . Swell building Thurs (7/9) starting at 4 AM as period hits 19 secs with period dropping to 18 secs at 3 PM. Size estimated to 2.0 ft @ 18-19 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (7/10) as period hits 17 secs. Swell to 3.0 ft @ 17 secs early (5.0 ft with sets to 6.5 ft). Residuals fading on Sat (7/11) from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft).  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 (1.3 ft @ 20 secs - 2.6 ft with sets to 3.5 ft). Swell continues Thurs (7/9) starting at 7 AM as period hits 19 secs building through the day with period dropping to 18 secs at 6 PM. Size estimated at 2.3 ft @ 18-19 secs (4.3 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). Swell to peak on Fri (7/10) as period hits 17 secs. Swell to 2.6 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft with sets to 5.5 ft). Residuals fading on Sat (7/11) from 2.3 ft @ 15 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft).  Swell Direction: 212-219 degrees with peak energy 218 degrees   

 

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 for California a weak pressure pattern is to remain in control through the weekend. But then on Tues (7/14) high pressure in the Central Pacific is to start ridging east firing up the usual pressure gradient and north winds along the Central and North Coasts at 20 kts with some windswell starting to develop.

Relative to Hawaii trades to fade out Sat (7/11) as the tropical low passes north of the Islands. But high pressure is to becoming reestablished over and east of the Islands on Monday (7/13) once the tropical system dissipates with east wind at 15 kts again in control and east windswell redeveloping on east facing shores and holding through at least Wed (7/15).  

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 Tuesday (7/7) the daily SOI was on the rise at 13.40 having previously bottomed out on (6/26) at -48.90. The 30 day average was rising from -14.82 and the 90 day average was rising from -10.27. 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 or a modest El Nino base state. Fading high pressure at 1028 mbs was over Southeast Australia while high pressure was tracking south of Tahiti. A weak low pressure pattern is to slide south of Tahiti later in the work week, then be r.cgiaced again by high pressure while low pressure takes over Southeast Australia with a rising SOI likely. A week out lower pressure is to start developing south of Tahiti with higher pressure again building over Southeast Australia with a falling SOI possible. 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. But at this time we're not seeing that developing. And if anything, a rising SOI won't help the 90 day average get down into the -15 range required of a typical El Nino.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated moderate.cgius west anomalies continued over the Maritime Continent reaching over the dateline, turning strong from there to a point south of Hawaii then weakening to modest strength while continuing into the Galapagos. This WWB burst had grown to cover the entire equatorial Pacific. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a similar picture with very strong strong west winds (not just anomalies) between 150E-175E with raging west anomalies reaching almost to a point south of Hawaii, then fading from there. This is very solid WWB with good duration and coverage. A week from now (7/15) neutral anomalies are to be in the west Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) then building from the west starting at 160E to a point south of Hawaii at moderate strength, fading some and gone at 130W. 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 after that easing east out of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days, then weak westerlies started again on 6/18 with zero easterly anomalies reported so far this year. And now we continue in a significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 and forecast to hold for 15 days (7/11). Another strong Kelvin Wave is expected to result. 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.  The CFS v2 model calls for non-stop westerly anomalies for the next 2 months.  

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/6 suggests a modest Active MJO signal was in control over the far West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests the Active Phase is fading out while pushing steadily east, gone 8 days out with the Inactive Phase starting to move in from the Indian Ocean 11 days out and building. The Dynamic model depicts a steady state moderate Active Phase in the West Pacific inching east for the next 15 days slowly giving up strength, but still in control at the end of the period. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is set up in the Indian Ocean and is to be making no east headway. There is a huge disparity between the two models. 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 peaked on 7/5 at a strength off the charts and is forecast to rapidly collapse while holding in.cgiace in the West Pacific till 7/18. The ultra long range upper level model run on 7/7 depicts a strong Active pattern exiting over the East Pacific and is expected to be gone by 7/13. A strong Inactive Phase is already over Indonesia and is to push into the West Pacific by 7/17 making it to the East Pacific by 8/8 with a moderate Active Phase building in the Indian Ocean behind that. As of right now, there are no signs of the 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. If east anomalies are to materialize it is estimated they would appear the last week of July in to the first week of August. 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. If a real Inactive Phase develops, hopes for a Super El Nino will be severely impeded. The models are .cgiit between a continuation of westerly anomalies and something less. Guess we'll have to wait and see. 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 (7/6) 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 eastern edge of the NINO 3.4 region, and making more progress into it while backfilling down the Peruvian Coast and up into Central America.  Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region do not appear to be getting warmer, but are instead fueling expansion of coverage over the entire region. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, though loosing some of it's coverage. Compared to the '97 Super El Nino on this date, there continues to be no comparison. And this is not unexpected as the '97 Event really starting supercharging water temps in the Nino 1.2 region in this timeframe. But with a solid Kelvin Wave on the verge of impacting the Ecuador coast, additional strengthening of NINO 1/2 water temps are possible if not likely, helping to regain some ground. Still our suspicions are that the weaknesses above in this years event are to only continue over time compared to '97, mainly due to the comparative weakness in terms of duration of the WWBs this year 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 +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies expanding from the Galapagos to 130W and continuing to build west of there a new pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies at 140W. This is a significant upgrade from 6/29. 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 holding at 180W.  

The most recent hi-res data (7/6) indicates peak temps between the Galapagos and Ecuador are building while advecting west. Warm anomalies are holding along the immediate coast of Northern Chile up into Peru and the Galapagos with a near continuous core of 4-5 degs anomalies streaming from Southern Peru pushing off Ecuador and over the Galapagos reaching well west of there. 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, then built to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps faded slightly since down to +4.1 degs but now back to +4.4 degs today. And much more warm water is 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 has been hovering at +2.1 degrees since late May then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, but is now down to +2.0 degs today. That is a bit puzzling. Still, warm water from a strong Kelvin Wave is lurking just under the surface has been expected to impact the Galapagos, and appears to be happening now. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggests water temps have held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April. But starting 6/23 were on the increase pushing +1.5 degs as of 6/30 and generally holding there (+1.57 degs today). Unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies have encroached westward from the Galapagos to 131W as of 6/30 and continue backfilling and growing in areal coverage. One would expect NINO 3.4 to start warming as warming water from the 1.2 region starts advecting west, and that is happening now.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are starting to rebuild some with +2.0 degs anomalies building at 170W, presumably the immediate effects of a WWB occurring just west of there. Warmer water previously there is tracking east reinforcing a large warm reservoir moving into Ecuador. So the pipe is open with more warm water falling into. In parallel the reservoir in the east is pushing into the Galapagos and Ecuador. A large pool of +6 degs anomalies is holding there centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 125W to Ecuador and 4+ deg anomalies reaching east from 132W. 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 perhaps 2 months of warm water in this reservoir. And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline. 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. The Kelvin Wave impacting the East Pacific should peak on Aug 1, with presumably a third starting to build now, possibly impacting the Galapagos on 10/2. This is a great setup.  

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 7/2 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific east of the dateline with a core at +15 cm at 90W and +10 cm anomalies expanding west from 130W 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 (7/2) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 160W and the Ecuador coast (easing east) with +1.0-1.5 degs from 150W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 143W. And +2 deg anomalies are holding between the coast and 105W. A Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June and the next wave is building if not starting to impact the coast looking every bit as strong. This is a very good sign with yet more westerly anomalies and a new Kelvin Wave starting to build on the dateline. 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 7/7 for the Nino 3.4 region are holding. 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 in the +2.0 deg range. This suggests we have passed the likelihood of a Modoki event and are now firmly moving towards 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. 

Also see the CFS 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds and MJO with analysis here New!

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 

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather system are forecast with a strong ridging pattern in control of the upper atmosphere pushing all eastward migrating gales over Antarctica and getting no traction on the oceans surface.

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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