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 Thursday (7/31) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range and a bit warbled at exposed breaks and clean at protected breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was mostly flat with rare thigh high sets and clean though texture was building outside the kelp. In Southern California up north minimal windswell was hitting producing waves in the thigh high range on the sets and clean early. Down south hurricane swell was still hitting producing surf in the waist to maybe chest high on the rare set and textured early. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean early. The South Shore was getting new tiny southern hemi swell with waves chest high with some bigger sets and trades in effect making for clean conditions. Trade wind generated east windswell was producing waves at waist high and chopped at exposed breaks on the East Shore.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
No swell producing fetch is occurring or forecast for the North Pacific other than local windswell and that was limited to California, and in the small category. The tropics remain somewhat active with a depression (formally Genevieve) tracking east getting ready to move south of Hawaii. Swell from what was Hurricane Hernan is hitting Southern CA, thought he storm itself is gone. And Tropical Storm Halong was east of the Northern Philippines, forecast to build and turning northwest. In the southern hemisphere a very modest gale developed under New Zealand on Wed (7/23) producing 28 ft seas, then faded. Small swell is possible for Hawaii. A second equally weak system developed Sun (7/27) east of Northern New Zealand and is currently tracking east through the northern reaches of the Southeast Pacific with 30 ft seas. A semi decent pulse of swell to result for North and South America. A gale tracked east across the Southern Tasman Sea on Wed (7/30) with up to 37 ft seas producing limited sideband swell pushing towards Fiji. But this system is to fade before entering the South Pacific. Things settle down a bit until later next week when a gale might develop under New Zealand on Thurs 98/7) with 36 ft seas.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (7/31) trades suppressed were holding just barely in the 15 kt range east of the Islands in association with the remnants of a tropical storm (Genevieve) south-southeast of Hawaii and weak high pressure at 1020 mbs off the US West Coast offering minimal support for generation of easterly windswell along east facing shores there. Weak high pressure at 1020 mbs was in the northeastern Gulf of Alaska ridging into the Pacific Northwest generating a very weak version of the usual summer time pressure gradient over North California producing north winds at 20 kts there resulting in bare minimal north local short period windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA.
Over the next 72 hours generally more of the same is forecast relative to the US West Coast with north winds over North CA building at 20 kts pushing 25 kts by Sun (8/3) holding into Monday offering only marginally better odds for development of short period north windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA. The nearshore eddy (south winds) is to barely hold on for Central CA during that window.
Easterly trades relative to Hawaii to start building in coverage on Fri (8/1) east of and over the Islands at 15 kts fueled by a developing gradient between the remnants of Genevieve passing south of Hawaii on Fri-Sat (8/2) and then another tropical wave following the same path Sun-Mon (8/4) and weak high pressure to the north. The remnants of Genevieve to move to a point 400 nmiles south of the Big Island Sat AM (8/2) with winds 30 kts with more low pressure falling in-line behind. So windswell is a pretty sure bet for east facing shores for a while.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Depression Genevieve was positioned 650 nmiles southeast of the Big Island of Hawaii tracking east with winds 30 kts on the 131 degree track to the Big Island. This motion is to continue Tues (8/5) pushing south of the Johnson Atoll at that time. Relative to Hawaii, this system to best produce only easterly windswell, largest relative to the Big Island. Still, seas are only estimated at 8 ft in Genevieve core.
The GFS model also has a new tropical depression developing mid-way between Hawaii and Mexico on Fri (8/1) and south of California at 14N 124W tracking west and moving on a path similar to previous systems. It's to perhaps reach hurricane status on Wed (8/6) near 17N 140W, then weakening while theoretically tracking to a point 300 nmiles east of the Big Island late Thurs (8/7). Something to monitor.
Swell from what was Hurricane Hernan was still hitting Southern CA, at 1.5 ft @ 13-14 secs on Thurs AM (7/31). But the storm itself is long gone. Swell is dissipating with nothing expected to be left by Fri AM (8/1).
A broad area of tropical low pressure continued circulating 250 nmiles northeast of Taiwan. It is expected to develop and track to a point just southwest of Korea on Sat (8/2). No swell relative to our forecast area is expected. No recurvature to the northeast is forecast.
And Tropical Storm Halong was east 1100 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines with winds still 50 kts and tracking west. Slow strengthening and a turn to the west-northwest and then northwest is forecast with this system peaking on Sun (8/3) with winds 95 kts positioned 700 nmiles east of the Northern Philippines. Some weakening to follow as this system moves towards Southern Japan. The GFS model suggest a turn to the north and perhaps barely skirting the east coast of Japan a week out. But at this early date it way to early to predict anything.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (7/31) weak high pressure was positioned off Central and North CA producing a modest version of the usual summer time pressure gradient and north winds at 20 kts over a small area off Cape Mendocino, with an eddy flow nearshore to the Central and South CA coast. No change is forecast other than north winds building over Cape Mendocino to near 25 kts on late Sat (8/2), then fluctuating down to 20 kts on Tues (8/5) and holding into the following weekend. A nearshore eddy flow is to continue for Central and South CA.
Jetstream - On Thursday (7/31) a strong ridge was pushing southeast from Tasmania at 150 kts tracking under the southern tip of New Zealand then pushing hard south from there crashing into the Ross Ice Shelf and continuing inland over Antarctica . It's remnants were limping north through the Central South Pacific but remnants of a previous ridge were east of there. The net effect was a total lockdown of the entire South Pacific Ocean with no jetstream support for the development of low pressure at lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours the ridge over the Southwest Pacific is to continue holding influence while slowly pushing to the east, locking down the west and central South Pacific. Beyond 72 hours a weaker ridge to fill in behind southeast of New Zealand but with winds only 100 kts, having a bit less of an influence through Tues (8/5). After that a zonal flow is to set up with the southern branch of the jet running float west to east on the 53S latitude, relatively far north for this summer. If anything, the jet is to bow a little tot he north then, perhaps starting to form a weak trough under New Zealand and points east of there. Limited support for gale development possible in the Southwest Pacific.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (7/31) weak and small background swell from a tiny gale under New Zealand last week was pushing towards Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Tiny New Zealand Gale below). Another small gale developed in the Southern Tasman Sea on Tues (7/29) targeting Fiji (see Tasman Sea Gale below). Another tiny gale developed Sun (7/27) east of northern New Zealand and built some while still tracking east (see South Pacific Gale below). It had almost traversed the entire South Pacific.
On Thurs AM (7/31) a gale was tracing southeast under New Zealand producing 45 kt west winds and seas 36 ft over a tiny area at 56S 165E. But the southeast track and small fetch area is to almost guarantee no swell is to be radiating northeast up into our forecast area. A quick fade is forecast by evening with remnants of this system crashing into the Ross Ice Shelf late.
On Sat (8/2 ) a weak gale is to try and develop in the far Southeast Pacific generating 35-40 kt south winds aimed due north and a tiny area of 28 ft seas at 42S 125W targeting California. 35-40 kt south winds to hold into Sun AM (8/3) with 26 ft seas at 38S 118W targeting Southern CA. Something to monitor.
Tiny New Zealand Gale
On Tues PM (7/22) a small area of 40 kt west winds built under New Zealand resulting in seas of 32 ft over a tiny area at 59S 158E (215 degs NCal and SCal and unshadowed by Tahiti, completely shadowed by New Zealand relative to Hawaii). Winds barely held on at 40 kts Wed AM (7/23) while lifting northeast with seas 28 ft at 53S 167E (barely in the 210 degree path to Hawaii and 218 degs NCal/220 degs SCal and unshadowed). This system was gone by evening.
Hawaii: Tiny swell to arrive on Thurs (7/31) with swell building to 1.3 ft @ 15-16 sec late (2 ft). Swell continues on Fri (8/1) at 2 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Residuals into Sat (8/2) at 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195-201 degrees
California: Expect swell arrival on Sun (8/3) with swell 1.2 ft @ 16 secs (2 ft). Swell peaking Mon (8/4) with swell 1.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft). Swell Direction: 215-220
Tasman Sea Gale
A gale developed in the South Tasman Sea on Tues AM (7/29) with 37 ft seas aimed somewhat up the great circle tracks to Fiji in the evening (7/29) at 44S 156E (211 degs Fiji), 1900 nmiles out. A small shot of 17-18 sec period swell is expected to result.
Fiji: Expect swell arrival on Fri (7/1 GMT) with pure swell reaching 3.6 ft @ 17-18 secs (6.0-6.5 ft). Residual fading on Sat from 3.0 ft @ 14 secs (4 ft). Swell Direction: 211 degrees
South Pacific Gale
A new gale developed Sun AM (7/27) with a tiny area of 40 kt southwest winds and seas building to 26 ft over a infinitesimal area at 40S 163W. 40 kt south winds held in the evening with 26 ft seas holding at 39S 159W. The Jason-2 satellite passed right over this area and reported seas 24.5 ft with one reading to 28.9 ft. The model appeared a bit overhyped. On Mon AM (7/28) 35-40 kt south winds eased east with 27 ft seas at 40S 154W. The Jason-2 satellite reported average seas at 21.5 ft with a peak reading to 26.4 ft. The model appeared to be overhyping the seas. In the evening the fetch started growing in coverage at 35 kts from the southwest with 26 ft seas at 39S 147W. This system continued east on Tues AM (7/29) with 35-40 kt southwest winds continuing to build in coverage with finally a respectable size and 28 ft seas at 38S 140W (195 degs NCal, 198 degs SCal and unshadowed). In the evening winds built more from the south at 40 kts with seas 28 ft at 38S 135W (197 degs SCal, 192 degs NCal and unshadowed). Winds built to 40 kts more solidly Wed AM (7/30) from the south with seas to 30 ft roughly at 40S 130W (187 degs NCal, 190 degs SCal). The Jason-2 satellite passed over this fetch at 18Z and reported a 15 reading average of 26.2 ft with one reading to 28.6 ft but overall the pass suggested the model was overhyping the seas. This system held in the evening but with fetch aimed more easterly with more 28-30 ft seas over a broader area at 36S 125W aimed well to the northeast. On Thurs AM (7/31) 35-40 kt southwest winds were in play tracking east with 31 ft seas at 35S 120W (181 degs NCal, 182 degs SCal) then moving east of the CA swell window thereafter. This system developed is one worth monitoring.
Small swell is expected for Hawaii but with modest swell for CA possible. The significant wave heights reported by the hindcast model frames seem suspiciously high. that fact is not accounted for in the below surf forecasts.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/2) building to 2 ft @ 14-15 secs late (3 ft). Swell to peak Sun (8/3) at 2.6 ft @ 13-14 secs early (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Residuals fading Mon (8/4) from 2 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction 180-190 degrees
South CA: Expect swell arrival later Tues (8/5) with pure swell building to 1.4 ft @ 18-19 secs later (2.5 ft), though that might be on the high side. Swell to continue upwards on Wed (8/6) peaking near 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.5 with set to 5.0 ft) later. Thurs (8/7) swell to start fading from 2.6 ft @ 15 secs (4 ft with sets to 5 ft). Friday (8/8) swell fades from 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (8/6) building to 1.5 ft @ 18 secs (2.5 ft) later. Thurs (8/7) swell to peak at 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (4 ft with sets to 5 ft). Friday (8/8) swell to start fading from 2.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5-4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 185-195 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 hold off North CA from Mon (8/4) onward with the normal gradient in play over Cape Mendocino resulting in north winds 20+ kts there producing limited windswell for the workweek into at least Fri (8/8). And an eddy flow to remain in effect for South and Central CA for the week resulting in cleaner conditions and continuing to suppress upwelling and support development of more warm water along the CA coast. The warm water buildup relative to CA is most impressive.
Relative to Hawaii, high pressure north of the state is to continue holding with easterly trades at 15 kts through Monday (8/4) supported by tropical ow pressure to the south. But a gap in the tropical lows is to occur Tues-Wed (8/6) with east trades falling below 15 kts and windswell faltering. But yet a third tropical low pressure system is supposed to be developing east-southeast of the Big Island on Fri (8/1) and tracking east-northeast, reaching a point 300 nmiles east of the Big Island on Thurs (8/8). Possible swell to result if not strong winds. Something to monitor. And yet another tropical system is to be forming behind that on a similar course. The tropical machine is supposedly winding up and we're not even into the Fall season yet.
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 planet. 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 split 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).
On Thursday (7/31) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up to 9.48. The 30 day average was up some to -3.40 and the 90 day average was up some at -0.08. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a neutral Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a neutral Phase of the MJO. Low pressure is forecast to build just south of Tahiti on Sun-Mon (8/4) likely causing the SOI to fall. A second low to develop just southwest of Tahiti on Tues-Thurs (8/7) possibly continuing the trend. This would be opportune if it occurs.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated weak west anomalies over the eastern Maritime Continent associated with tropical development there moderating and turning weak westerly over the dateline and reaching east of a point south of Hawaii and on mid-way to the Galapagos. Neutral anomalies were east of there reaching over the Galapagos and Ecuador. A week from now (8/8) weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the equatorial Maritime Continent extending to the dateline and holding to a point south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are projected east of there to the Galapagos. The reality is there has hardly been a extended period of trades so far this year, and we're over 212 days into the year. Since the big westerly winds bursts of Jan-April, there was a neutral period in May to early June. Then the TOA array (surface sensors - the ground truth) indicated westerly anomalies started re-developing on 6/25 west of the dateline and held through 7/6 in the moderate range, then turned neutral on 7/7 but were trending light westerly on 7/11 through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst formed on 7/23 and has held through 7/30. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is in development. Compared to La Nina where enhanced trades (20+ kts) would be blowing non-stop, we're in great shape.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.
Previously a series of WWBs occurred 1/8-4/20 creating a large Kelvin Wave that is now impacting Ecuador, the Galapagos and Peru. And weak westerly anomalies continued through the month of May. This was very similar situation that led up to the big El Nino's of '82/32 and '97/98. But in those instances the WWBs and Kelvin Wave generation progressed non-stop through the Summer and Fall months.
An article presenting a Comparison between the genesis of the 1997 El Nino and this 2014 WWB event has been posted here.
A second analysis from 5/28 is posted here.
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/30 are generally in sync. They both suggest a neutral MJO signal is in effect in the West Pacific reaching to the dateline. 5 days out a weak Inactive Phase is to start taking root pushing east 8 days out and holding through 15 days per the statistic model. The dynamic model is less aggressive on this trend but still suggests the faintest of Inactive Phases developing and holding 2 weeks out. The ultra long range upper level model indicates a weak Active Phase is currently fading over the far East Pacific with a modest Inactive Phase pushing over the West Pacific. It's tracking steadily east reaching into Central America by Aug 30. A dead neutral pattern to follow. This is actually an upgrade from previous model runs, with the strength of the Inactive Phase forecast for August weaker than previous runs. We suspect further weaken to express itself as we move into August too. We're looking for a very weak MJO pattern biased Active if an El Nino were developing. This is what happened during July, even though the model suggested an Inactive Phase was to develop. This suggests that warming water in the equatorial East Pacific is starting to have some impact on the atmosphere above. 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 (7/31), a warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, but is in t steep decline. cool water is depicted along the immediate Peruvian Coast, and then in pockets just west of the Galapagos, most pronounced in the heart of the Nino 3.4 Region between 120W-160W, looking very much like a small La Nina was setting up. +0.5 degs C anomalies were over the dateline, likely the start of a new Kelvin Wave. Hi-res SST data depicts nothing different other than one small pocket of +4.0 deg anomalies holding off Central Peru. This confirms that the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave generated by Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April and that erupted at the surface near Ecuador in late May peaking late June is now dispersing. Reinforcements are needed, but are not coming immediately. Water temps off Peru are the proverbial tail of the dog, while Westerly Wind Bursts are the nose. The issue remains getting more warm water into the pipe to eventually erupt near the Galapagos.
Elsewhere, the entire North Pacific Ocean is full of warmer than normal water. There are virtually no signs of high pressure induced upwelling streaming southwest off California as would be expected this time of year. And serious warm water is building along the California coast, the exact opposite of the trend of the past 3+ years. Waters temps in San Francisco are 63 degrees. Very rare. But this is expected if El Nino were in play. This is significant in that is suggests the Gulf of Alaska High pressure system is much weakened relative to normal years, with north winds and upwelling much suppressed. The South Pacific is mostly normal except for cool water streaming off Southern Chile pushing west reaching up to the equator just south of Hawaii feeding the cool pool developing on the equator there. Overall the total amount of warmer than normal water in the North Pacific remains impressive, while the South Pacific presents cooler than normal.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are in decline in the east. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. And -1 degs C anomalies are starting to build just west of the Galapagos at depth. Temps previously peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21. Satellite data from 7/27 depicts no elevated surface water heights in the Galapagos region. +5 cm anomalies are building over the dateline though. Subsurface models as of 7/27 depict -1-2 deg anomalies from 170W extending east to 100W. A building pocket of +1.0 to +2.0 deg anomalies are theoretically in place under the dateline and building while easing east suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave trying to take shape. But even if it is real, at this point in time it's a minimal Kelvin Wave and would not even warm waters above what they already are in the Galapagos region. A far stronger Kelvin wave is required, meaning a strong WWB is required. And even at that, it would take 2-3 months before it would arrive at the Galapagos (~Sept 30).
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 7/31 suggest water temps building to +1.0 deg C by early Oct peaking at + 1.5 deg C (down from the +1.55 deg C predicted in early July and +1.75 in May) holding into Jan 2015, then fading. Interestingly this model actually depicts warm waters dissipating in the Nino1+2 regions in August then redeveloping in the Nino 3.4 regions in Sept and gaining momentum and areal coverage while building back into Nino1.2 into Jan 2015 link.
Analysis: The massive Kelvin Wave that was generated by successive Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April has erupted in the Galapagos region and is now all but dispersed. The WWB ended on 5/1 with all warm water from it arriving 3 months later over the Galapagos, or by 8/1. The immediate future looks like neutral water temps will taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle in the next few weeks with no immediate reinforcements projected. All evidence clearly suggest the warm pool is in rapid decline exactly as projected. A new weak WWB appears to be developing in the West Pacific (starting 6/28). But even if it were to continue, it would not reach the Galapagos till 9/28. So there's a 8 week 'hole' with no significant warm water to resupply the Ecuador triangle between 8/1 and 9/28. This will likely cause water temps to decease in the Nino1+2 regions, likely to near neutral. That means that even if another weak Kelvin Wave were to arrive in the Galapagos, it will have to warm water temps from dead neutral, rather than acting as reinforcements to already warmed waters. And if no additional Westerly Wind Bursts occur, warm water in all Nino regions will dissipate completely.
Assuming westerly anomalies continue in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (west of the dateline), more warm water will migrate east. this is a reasonable assumption seeing how there has been virtually no easterly anomalies for the first 7 months of this year. And trades tend to weaken during Fall months in the northern hemi, meaning we're just now starting to reach th point in time where Westerly Wind Bursts should have the best support for development. Current thinking is that we are just in the 'upwelling' Phase of the Kelvin Wave. It's normal after a downwelling Kevin Wave impacts the Ecuador coast, especially a massive one like just experienced, that some period of upwelling (cooling) occurs. And for that to be true, the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle would be facilitated by a lack of westerly winds in the West Pacific (as what occurred during May and June). Most El Nino's do not develop till the Fall, including the Super El Nino of '83/83. Only a few (namely the '97 Super El Nino) developed and survived strong through the summer and over the span of an entire year. A more 'normal' development life cycle would favor the alternating 'downwelling/upwelling' Kelvin Wave cycle. We believe that is the current case.
The CFSv2 model depicts exactly this scenario playing out, with water temps in Nino1.2 fading in August then redeveloping in September, exactly filling the 'hole' scenario described above. If a sudden redevelopment of westerly winds occurred in late July into August, and a new Kelvin Wave were to develop starting early August, the 'upwelling Kelvin Wave' theory would have credence towards explaining the current pause in WWB activity. All evidence at this time suggests this is the case. But without another WWB building on the dateline in late July/August to set up another downwelling Kelvin Wave event, then the developing El Nino pattern would dissipate. Monitoring surface wind anomalies in the West Pacific remains critical to determining the future of this years potential El Nino pattern.
And finally, there's the 'feedback loop' consideration. We suspect it might already be in-play. The largest argument in favor of that is the total breakdown of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure system, resulting in very high water temps off California. Also the early season recurving of multiple tropical low pressure systems tracking northeast off Japan bound for the dateline. The only argument against the feedback loop being in place is the development of a west moving Pacific Counter Current, a dissipating Kelvin Wave and the degradation of peak water temps in the Ecuador triangle. But all these could be attributable to the macro level influence of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. Only once the ocean and atmosphere are coupled on a global level (that is, the ocean has imparted enough heat into the atmosphere to start changing the global jetstream pattern) can one begin to have confidence that a feedback loop is developing and a fully matured El Nino can result. About 3 months of undisturbed heating is required for the atmosphere to start responding on a global level where the point of 'no return' could be achieved. The warm pool starting forming in earnest on 5/1, and so the atmosphere would not trip over the 'no-return' point till 8/1. We have reach that threshold assuming cooling in the equatorial Pacific is just a downwelling Kelvin Wave phase). Considering the size and duration of the westerly wind bursts in Jan-April, it seem hard to believe that some global level 'change' is not already well entrenched, and has been developing since perhaps as early and Oct of 2013 (when the first Kelvin Wave of the series started taking shape). Monitoring the number, location and track of tropical systems in the North Pacific over the next few weeks will help to sort things out, as will monitoring westerly wind anomalies and warm subsurface water buildup in and under the Kelvin Wave Generation area.
Overall the immediate outlook remains unchanged, but potentially trending towards something that would be considered warm by Aug-Sept 2014. At a minimum the ocean is well past recharge mode, with cold water from the 2010-2011 La Nina dispersed and temperatures on the rise. Regardless of the WWBs etc, we are still in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern at this time with neither any form of El Nino in-play. But given all current signs, atmospheric transition appears to be underway, and hopefully intensifying into Fall. Still this is a far better place than previous years (2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013) under the direct influence of La Nina. And it seems apparent we've recovered from the 2009-2010 El Nino. We've turned the corner, but we'll remain cautious and not say to much yet, especially in light of what appears to be a decadal bias towards a cooler regime (since 1998).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours a pair of gales are to develop in the South Tasman Sea tracking southeast under New Zealand, one right behind the other. But high pressure at 1030 mbs is to be east of New Zealand affording them to real access to the South Pacific. An the fetch that does try to nose east is to form a gradient with the high and all aimed south towards Antarctica. 30 ft seas forecast with each, but of no use.
On Thurs (8/7) a broad gale is to build under New Zealand with 45 kt west winds and seas building to 37 ft over a solid area aimed east-northeast. Probably just a tease by the model that will never materialize, but something to monitor just the same.
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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