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 (8/7) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range at top spots and pretty warbled. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high on the sets and fairly clean, but long waits for sets. Unimpressive. In Southern California up north windswell was waist high on the sets and reasonably clean even later in the day. Down south waves were waist high and textured. Hawaii's North Shore was flat with light sideshore chop. The South Shore was thigh to waist high and clean. Iselle swell was waist to chest high on the East Shore and chopped with northeast winds 15+ kts.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Swell producing fetch for the North Pacific was limited to local windswell for Central California and East Shores of the Hawaiian Islands and tropically produced swell for East Shores too. The Central Pacific tropics remain quite active. Super Typhoon Genevieve was 700 nmiles south-southwest of Midway Island tracking northwest with 140 kts (161 mph) winds and maxed out. Hurricane Iselle was 250 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island with winds 65 kts (minimal hurricane status) tracking west-northwest producing swell hitting exposed east shore of the Hawaiian Islands and forecast to track over the Big Island Thursday evening with 60 kts winds. Hurricane Julio was 1300 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island churning west-northwest and peaking with 90 kts winds. Typhoon Halong was 300 nmiles south of Southern Japan and tracking north, with winds 75 kts. In the southern hemisphere swell from a weak gale that developed Sun (7/27) east of Northern New Zealand and tracked east through the northern reaches of the Southeast Pacific with 28-30 ft seas is hitting California, smaller that anticipated. A small storm tracked under Southern New Zealand with 52 ft seas barely in the CA swell window, then faded 12 hrs later with 40 ft seas targeting California and Hawaii. Tiny swell possible. The model suggest a better system 7 days out, if that is believable.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (8/7) trades were holding in the 15 kt range over and east of the Islands in association with a gradient produced by tropical low pressure south of Hawaii tracking west and weak high pressure at 1024 mbs north of the Islands providing support for generation of easterly windswell along east facing shores there. But of more interest was swell hitting east facing shore attributable to fetch associated with first Hurricane Iselle and with more swell originating from Julio behind. That same weak high pressure system was producing a weak version of the usual summer time pressure gradient over Cape mendocino CA resulting in small and weak short period north windswell relative to North and Central CA. No other swell producing fetch of interest was in play.
Over the next 72 hours high pressure is to fluctuate west of North CA resulting in more of the typical Northern California pressure gradient over Cape Mendocino producing north winds to 25 kts by Fri (8/8) holding into Sunday AM pushing somewhat into the San Francisco area but no further south. Decent odds for development of short period north windswell for exposed breaks in Central CA. The nearshore eddy (south winds) relative to Central CA is to be gone through the weekend. No change is forecast relative to Southern CA though.
Also low pressure is currently in the eastern Bering Sea (the remnants of TS Nakri) and is forecast to fall southeast on Sat (8/9) generating a broad fetch of 20-25 kts northwest winds but then rapidly fading late Saturday evening into Sunday AM. Maybe some small windswell to result for the Pacific Northwest down into Central CA.
Discounting any direct impact of tropical weather, easterly trades relative to Hawaii to hold east of and over the Islands at at least 15 kts through Sun (8/10), though posed to change later Sunday as Julio tracks just north of the Islands. regardless of whatever windswell is to be in the water, hurricane swell will be stronger (see Tropics below).
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
As of Thurs 18Z (8/7):
Super Typhoon Genevieve was positioned 700 nmiles south-southwest of Midway Island tracking north-northwest with 140 kts (161 mph) winds and maxed out. Genevieve is to continue on this heading through mid-Saturday (8/9) with winds fading to 120 kts, then turning more northwest and fading, tracking towards Kamchatka. Winds to be down to 50 kts Tues (8/12) with Genevieve stalling 1200 nmiles south-southeast of southern Kamchatka. There is to be no jetstream flow there, meaning no recurvature is expected.
Hurricane Iselle was 250 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island tracking west-northwest with 65 kt winds producing small 13-14 sec period swell that was hitting exposed east shore of the Hawaiian Islands. Iselle is to track over the core of the Big Island Thursday evening with 60 kts winds, likely getting shredded there by the mountains. Iselles remnants to continue plodding east-northeast positioned 120 nmiles south of Oahu on Fri AM (8/8) with winds down to 55 kts, but even that seems optimistic. Iselle to continue on a easterly track from there with winds fading to 35 kts on Sunday and fading out from there. No restrengthening forecast.
Oahu: Swell to peak at sunrise Fri (8/8) and mainly just pure windswell at 11 ft @ 12-13 secs (10-12 ft) from 100 degrees.
Hurricane Julio was was 1300 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island churning west-northwest and peaking with 90 kts winds. Julio is forecast to be positioned 130 nmiles north of the north shore of the Big Island on Sun AM (8/10) with winds 60 kts. Best estimates suggest Julio tracking west-northwest from there missing the Islands but generating larger swell. After that is is projected to ease east perhaps regenerating near the dateline, but blocked from tracking north by high pressure.
Oahu: Swell to start hitting on Sat (8/9) building to 4.5 ft @ 15 secs late (6.5 ft) and heading up from there. On Sunday (8/10) swell to reach 8 ft @ 14 secs late (11 ft) from 90 degrees, then fading from there. Residuals Mon AM fading fast from 7 ft @ 10-11 secs (7 ft) from 30 degrees.
Typhoon Halong was 300 nmiles south of Southern Japan and tracking north, with winds 75 kts. Wind speeds to generally hold as Halong moves into South Japan early Friday (GMT) (8/8) with winds 80 kts. A turn to the north-northeast is forecast Sunday (8/10) with Halong in the China Sea and winds down to 50 kts. Halong is forecast to track into North China late Sunday with no recurvature to the northeast.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thursday AM (8/7) high pressure at 1028 mbs was off Central CA with the usual pressure gradient in play over Cape Mendocino, with north winds 20-25 kts there. And eddy flow was in play over Central and South CA. On Friday the gradient is to fall south some reaching down to near Monterey Bay with no eddy flow in play from there northward. On Sun (8/10) the gradient to build more solidly to 25 kts lifting north back to Cape Mendocino with a nearshore eddy flow again setting up from Pt Reyes southward. The gradient to fade to 15 kts on Monday holding into Wednesday with the eddy holding nearshore, then north winds building to 25 kts at Cape Mendocino again but with the eddy holding for all of Central and South CA. The longer the eddy holds, the long warm water has a chance to build locally. All this suggests that the usual Northeast Pacific High pressure system is weaker than normal, suppressing motherly trades, and cold upwelling. This is right on cue.
Jetstream - On Thursday (8/7) a ridge was still tracking east over the Central South Pacific reaching down into Antarctica near 150W eliminating support for gale development east of there. A bit of a trough continued under New Zealand but with only 90 kt winds feeding it offering no real support for gale development there. Over the next 72 hours the big ridge in the east is to fade with a weak zonal flow taking hold down at 60S. But a new trough is to build under New Zealand Sat PM (8/9) pushing north, but nearly pinched off, and then fully pinching off by Mon (8/11). No support for gale development indicated. Beyond 72 hours a zonal flow is to take over the greater South Pacific on Tues (8/12) down at 65S running over Antarctic Ice but yet another trough is forecast to build under New Zealand looking respectable by later Wednesday with 120 kts winds feeding it and getting reinforced on Thursday with maybe 140 kts winds. Perhaps decent support for gale development is possible.
Surface Analysis - On Thursday (8/7) swell from another tiny gale that developed Sun (7/27) east of Northern New Zealand and built while tracking east was pushing into California (see South Pacific Gale below). Swell from another gale that developed in the far Southeast Pacific was right behind pushing primarily towards Southern CA. Small swell from a small but strong storm under New Zealand on Mon PM (8/4) was pushing towards Fiji, Hawaii and the US West Coast (see Tiny New Zealand Storm below). Another swell from a gale in the Tasman Sea Wed-Thurs (8/7) was pushing towards Fiji (see Fiji Gale below). And one more small pulse is pushing towards Southern CA from the Southeast Pacific (see Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale below). Otherwise high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered over the southeast Pacific ridging south to 58S pushing any fetch in that area towards Antarctic Ice.
Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast. A cutoff gale is forecast just east of North New Zealand on Sat (8/9) producing 26-28 ft seas targeting Tahiti, with swell peaking there on Tues (8/12) at 7.8 ft @ 15 secs (10-11 ft) from 217-220 degrees, then quickly fading.
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.
South CA: Friday (8/8) swell holds near 4.0 ft @ 13 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fades quickly after that being overrun with more southerly angled swell. Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees
North CA: Friday (8/8) swell to hold with lesser period energy intermixing at 3 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft). Swell fading Saturday from 2.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 185-195 degrees
Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sat (8/2) a weak gale developed in the far Southeast Pacific generating 35-40 kt south winds aimed due north with a tiny area of 26 ft seas developing in the evening at 42S 128W targeting California. 35-40 kt south wind held into Sun AM (8/3) with 26-28 ft seas at 38S 120W targeting Southern CA down into South America. 26 ft seas continued pushing north into the evening at 38S 112W then faded. A small pulse of 14-15 secs period swell to result for Southern CA.
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (8/9) building to 2 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell to peak on Sun (8/10) at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell holding Mon (8/11) at 2.5 ft @ 14 secs 93.5 ft) then fading late afternoon. Swell Direction: 180-185 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (8/10) only at exposed breaks pushing 2.3 ft @ 16 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell to continue Tues (8/11) at 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading out fast thereafter. Swell Direction: 175-180 degrees
Tiny New Zealand Storm
A storm with 55 kt southwest winds developed southwest of New Zealand on Mon PM (8/4) producing 52 ft seas at 51S 155E mostly shadowed by New Zealand relative to California. The Jason-2 satellite passed near the core of the storm and reported average seas 43 ft with a peak reading to 52.3 ft where the model suggested 43 ft seas. The model was on track. Perhaps a sliver of 48 ft seas on the south side of the fetch was not shadowed relative to CA. 50-55 kt southwest fetch pushed east into Tues AM (8/5) generating more 40 ft seas at 52S 167E unshadowed and on the 220 degree path to CA and barely on the 201 degree path to Hawaii. Winds were fading from 45 kts in the evening with seas fading from 33 ft at 54S 177E (212 degs NCal and not shadowed by Tahiti, 214 degs SCal and shadowed, 195 degs HI) and gone after that. Perhaps a small pulse of background swell to result for all.
Fiji: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (8/7) late at 20 secs. Swell to peak overnight with swell still 6 ft @ 16 secs (9-10 ft) early Fri (8/7) GMT. Swell Direction: 210 degrees
Hawaii: Tiny sideband swell coming up through the Tasman Sea window to arrive starting Mon (8/11) at 2 ft @ 19 secs late (3.5 ft). Swell building Tuesday (8/12) to 2.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (4 ft). Swell fading Wed (8/13) from 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 212 degrees.
South CA: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (8/14) at 1.6 ft @ 19 secs (3 ft). Swell Direction: 221 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Thurs (8/14) at 1.5 ft @ 19 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 222 degrees
A broad gale developed in the South Tasman Sea Wed PM (8/6) with 45 kt winds aimed northeast producing 35 ft seas at 50S 154E targeting East New Zealand up into Fiji. The gale started to hit New Zealand directly Thurs AM (8/7) with 34 ft seas just off the southeast coast of New Zealand proper at 47S 163E. Swell possible for Fiji. But all swell energy is to be shadowed relative to the US West Coast.
Fiji: Swell arrival forecast on Sat (8/9) GMT with swell building to 6 ft @ 16 secs late (9.5 ft). Swell to continue on Sun (8/10) 7.8 ft @ 16 secs (12.5 ft) fading fast Monday AM. Swell Direction: 206 degrees.
Tiny Southeast Pacific Gale
A small gale was building in the far Southeast Pacific on Tues (8/5) with 45 kt south winds mostly encased in Antarctic Ice. By evening 40 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast with seas building to 30 ft at 59S 120W targeting Southern CA. Fetch turned more towards Chile on Wed AM (8/6) with seas 30 ft at 57S 109W and outside the SCal swell window.
Maybe a pulse of background swell to result for Southern CA late on Thurs (8/14) at 1.3 ft @ 16 secs (2 ft) from 175-180 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 fade off Northern CA with no significant north windswell being generated. Additional tropical energy from the far West Pacific to move into the Gulf reinforcing the low pressure pattern some Mon-Tues (8/12) with 25-30 kt northwest winds forecast over exposed waters in the Western Gulf. More small windswell is possible for HI, the Pacific Northwest and southward to Central CA.
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 (8/7) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was up to -9.83. The 30 day average was down some to -5.98 and the 90 day average was down some at 0.19. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a weak Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a neutral Phase of the MJO.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies over the eastern Maritime Continent turning to modest westerly anomalies over the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from there east of a point south of Hawaii and continued on to the Galapagos. A week from now (8/15) weak easterly anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading to lighter east anomalies on the dateline turning neutral south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies are projected east of there to the Galapagos. There has not been a extended period of trades so far this year, and we're over 220 days into the year. If anything the trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies. 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 holding moderate through 7/6, then turned neutral on 7/7. But by 7/11 they were back trending light westerly and holding through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst then formed on 7/23 and held through 7/30, moderating but still westerly into 8/5 then rebuilding on 8/6. Another Kelvin Wave (weak at this point) is developing. Compared to La Nina where enhanced trades (20+ kts) would be blowing non-stop, we're in great shape and have been all year.
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 impacted Ecuador, the Galapagos and Peru, May and June. 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 8/6 are generally in sync. They both suggest a moderate Inactive MJO signal is in effect in the far West Pacific reaching to the dateline. 5 days out it is to hold per the Dynamic Model but start fading per the Statistic model. And 8 days out it is to be gone per the Statistic model, while the Dynamic model has it continuing unchanged then fading 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model has backed off again suggesting a weak Inactive Phase is over the West Pacific. It's to ease east and fade in the Central Pacific 8/27. A dead neutral pattern to follow through 9/16. This model has tended to overhype Inactive Phases so far this year. As such, we suspect further weaken to express itself as we move into August. 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 (8/7), a warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, but is in decline compared to the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, but not much. And it's actually holding up better than we expected. Cool water that was depicted along the immediate Peruvian Coast has backfilled with warm anomalies, and pushing 4 degs over the Galapagos. Cool pockets still exist in the heart of the Nino 3.4 region between 120W-160W, but not as bad as even 5 days ago. +0.5 degs C anomalies remain over the dateline, likely the start of a new Kelvin Wave. Hi-res SST data depicts nothing different, showing the backfilling of warmer water noted above. Even though the bulk of the massive Kelvin Wave generated by Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April has erupted at the surface near Ecuador in late May peaking late June is now dispersing, at least at this monet, another source of warm water is in play. Perhaps trades are dying there, like most everywhere else in the North Pacific, enabling the sun to provide warming to the top most layer. Still, 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 62 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/neutral 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 no longer in decline in the east. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. And -1 degs C anomalies were in place just west of the Galapagos at depth, but have vanished. Temps previously peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21 from the aforementioned Kelvin Wave. Now a generic +0.5 C anomaly path is in place from the West Pacific to the East at depth. This is great news indicating the pipe is open and light warm waters are pushing east. Satellite data from 8/1 depicts one small pocket of elevated surface water heights +5 cm just northwest of the Galapagos region, a recent addition and confirming the warm flow from other sources. Otherwise +5 cm anomalies are building over the dateline. Subsurface models depict a building pocket of +2.0 deg anomalies is theoretically in place under the dateline and building in coverage while easing east suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave trying to take shape, driven by westerly anomalies if not an out and out WWB on the dateline. At this point it's what can be classified a weak Kelvin Wave, but would not warm waters above what they already are in the Galapagos region. If westerly anomalies continue, they will feed more warm water into the building Kelvin Wave and into the open pipe. A solid Kelvin Wave is required to warm waters more, but it appears some other process is in play at this point in time favoring warm water accumulation in the Galapagos region. If this unknown process holds, along with the developing Kelvin Wave who's leading edge will arrive at the Galapagos 2-3 months later (~Sept 30), we theoretically could be over the hump. But we will not declare that until late August.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 8/7 are unchanged suggest water temps building to +1.0 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.45 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 looked like neutral water temps would be taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle in the next few weeks with no immediate reinforcements projected. But previous evidence that clearly suggested the warm pool was in rapid decline, have reversed themselves. And a new weak WWB and west anomalies appear 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. We had been thinking this would cause water temps to decease in the Nino1+2 regions, likely to near neutral. And 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. The good news is that does not appear to be the case, with westerly winds and a new Kelvin Wave currently in development (strength TBD). And at least for the moment, some other process is at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region (as of 8/7).
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 the point in time where Westerly Wind Bursts should have the best support for development. Current thinking is that we just coming out of the 'upwelling' Phase of the Kelvin Wave relative to wind anomalies, and the resulting cooler water is in the pipe pushing east. 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. See currently Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here. Notice the alternating eastward migrating 'cool' and 'warm' cycles (upwelling/downwelling Kelvin Waves).
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. The redevelopment of westerly winds started in July and is hoped to continue into at least August if not beyond, resulting in a new Kelvin Wave. All evidence at this time suggests this is the case. 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. And now the sudden pulse of tropical activity, in the East, Central and West Pacific, especially the hurricane pattern currently developing near Hawaii, is most telling. The only argument against the feedback loop 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 easily just be symptoms 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 current cooling of the equatorial Pacific is temporary and associated with the upwelling Kelvin Wave phase, then one can conclude the ocean and atmosphere are now linked/teleconnected. 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. Also monitoring of the NPac jetstream (which remain unimpressive at this time). But at this time odds are stacking in favor of a global telconnection now being established. If that's true, deepening of the ENSO cycle could begin in the next month or so, and perhaps rapidly once it starts.
But for now we'll remain cautious. 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 decent gale is forecast building under New Zealand just north of the Ross Ice Shelf on Wed PM (8/13) peaking Thurs AM (8/14) with 38 ft seas possible at 59S 170E. Something to monitor.
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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Then open your Google homepage, hit 'edit' button (top right near graph), and select your location
Updated - Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (8/3) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-3HUu9ONqE&feature=youtu.be&hd=1
For automatic notification of forecast updates, subscribe to the Stormsurf001 YouTube channel - just click the 'Subscribe' button below the video.
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Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.
Stormsurf Google Gadget - Want Stormsurf content on your Google Homepage? It's simple and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet Explorer Homepage, just click the link below and a buoy forecast will be added to your Google homepage. Defaults to Half Moon Bay CA. If you want to select a different location, just click on the word 'edit', and a list of alternate available locations appears. Pick the one of your choice. Content updates 4 times daily. A great way to see what waves are coming your way!
Free Stormsurf Stickers - Get your free stickers! - More details Here
Read all the latest news and happenings on our News Page here
Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table