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 Tuesday (8/19) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the waist high range with some texture and south and north warble intermixed at exposed breaks. It was clean at protected breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist high coming from south of New Zealand and clean, but slow. In Southern California up north a mix of southern hemi swells was producing surf in the waist high range and bit crumbled but overall clean. Down south waves were waist high coming from southern hemi swell and a little warbled with a southwest flow in effect. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and a bit warbled from sideshore trades early. The South Shore was getting residual background southern hemi swell with waves waist high and clean. On the East Shore trade wind generated windswell was knee to thigh high and chopped.
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 tiny local north windswell. The East Pacific tropics were also reasonably active with swell in the water and pushing towards California. From the southern hemisphere swell was in the water tracking northeast from a small but decently strong gale that developed under New Zealand on Wed-Thurs (8/14) with a small area of up to 40 ft seas aimed well northeast. This is the same swell that peaked in Tahiti on Mon (8/18). Another weak pulse followed Fri (8/15) with 34 ft seas aimed mainly due east. Small swell from that is in the water too. Beyond a small gale is forecast forming southwest of Tahiti on Fri (8/22) with 26 ft seas, but small in coverage targeting only Tahiti and Hawaii. Perhaps a modest gale to develop southeast of New Zealand on Mon-Tues (8/27) tracking northeast with 32 ft seas.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (8/19) a very clam pressure and wind pattern continued over the North Pacific. Relative to California a small area of 15-20 kt north winds were blowing over Cape Mendocino resulting in minimal local north windswell at exposed breaks mainly in Central CA. Otherwise trades were suppressed blowing less than 15 kts east of the Hawaiian Islands, with no real easterly windswell resulting along east facing shores there. The tropics were active with Karina and Lowell in play south and southwest of California (see Tropical Update section for details below).
Over the next 72 hours no change of any magnitude is expected with the Tropics being of most interest. A weak pressure gradient is to continue over Cape Mendocino continuing minimal north winds (15-20 kts) and local north windswell for Central CA. Trades are to try and building in pockets relative to Hawaii coming from the northeast at 15 kts resulting in perhaps a minimal uptick in windswell there. And low pressure is to develop over the dateline, but no fetch of interest is to result. The tropics to be of more interest. The Inactive Phase of the MJO is to continue putting a damper on the West Pacific tropics.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Update (Tues 12Z)
Tropical Storm Karina was nearly stationary 1400 nmiles east-southeast of the Hawaii with winds 45 kts tracking west at 5 kts producing 13 ft seas. Karina is forecast to continue on this track over the coming 5 days with winds fading slowly to 35 kts, and not making much westward progress. No swell production of interest is projected for anywhere but maybe the East Shore of the Big Island, and very limited at that.
Tropical Storm Lowell was positioned 950 nmiles south of Dana Point CA with winds 45 kts covering a decent area with seas to 13 ft tracking northwest at 8 kts. This was on the 186 degree track to Dana Point. Lowell to continue on this track and at this speed for the next few days with winds building to 55 kts on Wed AM (8/20) and holding into Thurs AM (8/21) positioned 825 nmiles south-southwest of Dana Point on the 195 degree path.
Swell from the peak of the storm to reach Southern CA on Fri AM (8/22) with period 13 secs peaking in the afternoon near 4 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.5-5.0 ft faces) assuming the models have an accurate grasp on reality. Also swell to radiate up into the Central CA on the 175 degree track for the weekend peaking later Sun (8/23) with swell 4 ft @ 12 secs (4.5 ft) from 175 degrees.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (8/19) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned off the Pacific Northwest coast forming a very weak pressure gradient over Oregon and Cape Mendocino. 15 kts north winds were over coastal waters there, but not even reaching south to Pt Arena. A light wind flow was in play for the California coast. On Wednesday north winds are forecast at 15-20 kts over Cape Mendocino holding through Tues (8/26). Those winds to not reach any further south than Pt Arena this week. Southern CA to remain in a weak eddy flow pattern. Though no real windswell is being produced, the suppressed wind flow resulting from suppression of standard Northeast Pacific High Pressure System is warming not just local waters, but waters over all the Northeast Pacific. It sure seems like El Nino is already manifesting itself locally.
Jetstream - On Tuesday (8/19) the southern branch of the jet was in a zonal configuration running flat west to east over the West Pacific then was tracking southeast/ridging over the Eastern South Pacific pushing into Antarctica. No troughs were present and winds over the width of the South Pacific at 100 kts under New Zealand and then again pushing into Antarctica. There was no real support from the jetstream for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours a trough is to build under New Zealand pushing east with winds 130 kts on Wed (8/20) building to 150 kts late Thursday centered southeast of New Zealand offering some limited support for gale development there. But the trough to moderate into Friday with less wind energy and less support for gale development taking hold. The ridge is to hold in the Southeast Pacific. Beyond 72 hours a flat zonal flow to reestablish itself into late Mon (8/25) when a new trough is forecast building under New Zealand with 130 kts winds pushing northeast then building to 140 kts late on Tuesday and pushing due north. Improved support for gale development indicated.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (8/19) swell from a small storm that developed under New Zealand on Tues PM (8/12) was pushing northeast, having already peaked in Tahiti and heading first for Hawaii and then the US West Coast (see New Zealand Gale below). Tow other tiny fetch area followed producing nothing or real interest (details below). Otherwise a fetch of 30-35 kt west winds continued pushing under New Zealand resulting in 22-24 ft seas there (55S 165E0), but nothing strong enough to result in swell for the usual targets north of the equator. North winds continued blowing over the Eastern South Pacific offering nothing relative to South America and in fact shutting swell production down there.
Over the next 72 hours no gale or swell production of interest is forecast.
New Zealand Gale
A new gale started building well south of Tasmania on Tues PM (8/12) lifting northeast. By Wed AM (8/13) 50 kt southwest winds were in-play south-southwest of New Zealand generating 32 ft seas at 56S 160E. A small area of 50 kt south winds held into the evening with 40 ft seas covered a tiny area at 51S 169E (218 degs SCal, 217 degs NCal, 201 degs HI). By Thurs AM (8/14) a thin area of 45 kt southwest winds were tucked up against East New Zealand aimed well to the north with 35 ft seas at 46S 175E. Winds were fading from 40 kts off Northeast New Zealand in the evening with seas fading from 32 ft at 41S 179W (222 degs SCal, 221 degs NCal, 201 degs HI). This system to dissipated after that.
A nice solid shot of swell was been produced relative to Tahiti with solid utility class swell expected for Hawaii, and the standard utility class swell for California. There was no shadowing by Tahiti relative to California and the storm track was decidedly to the northeast which should increase the number of waves per set. But fetch size was limited, which will mitigate set wave numbers some.
Tahiti: Expect swell arrival late on Sun afternoon (8/17) pushing 4.5 ft @ 18 secs (8 ft). Swell to peak Mon AM (8/18) at 8.7 ft @ 15-16 secs (13 ft Hawaiian). Swell fading Tues AM (8/19) at 6.9 ft @ 13 secs (9 ft faces). Swell Direction: 220 degrees New swell from another fetch south of New Zealand on Fri (8/15) to arrive on Wed (8/20) at 4.8 ft @ 17 secs (8 ft) peaking Thurs (8/21) at 7.5 ft @ 14-15 secs early (10.5 ft). Residuals on Fri (8/22) at 5.1 ft @ 12-13 secs (6.0-6.5 ft). Swell Direction: 205 degrees
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed AM (8/20) with period 19 secs and building late to 2.0 ft @ 18 secs (3.5 ft). Swell building over night pushing Thurs AM (8/21) at 2.6 ft @ 16 secs (4 ft with 5 ft sets) and building late to 3.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.7 ft with sets to 5.8 ft). Swell fading Fri AM (8/22) from 3.0 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Residuals on Sat AM (8/23) at 2.6 ft @ 13 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 201 degrees
Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat AM (8/23) with period 18 secs early and size building to 2.0 ft @ 17 secs late (3.4 ft with sets to 4.3 ft). Swell to peak Sun AM (8/24) at 2.5 ft @ 16-17 secs early (4.1 ft with sets to 5.1 ft). Swell Direction: 218-222 degrees
North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat AM (8/23) with period 18 secs early and size building to 1.7 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0 ft with sets to 3.7 ft). Swell to peak Sun AM (8/24) at 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs early (3.3 ft with sets to 4.1 ft). Swell Direction: 217-22 degrees
Another New Zealand Fetch
On Fri PM (8/15) a fetch of 45 kt west winds built under New Zealand. Seas building to 34 ft at 60S 165E. Fetch fading fast thereafter with seas from previous fetch peaking Sat AM (8/16) at 34 ft at 60S 178E. This system was gone by Sat PM.
Sideband swell is radiating north towards Tahiti (see forecast above) and Hawaii.
Hawaii: Swell expected arriving on Sat AM (8/23) building to 1.7 ft @ 17 secs late (3.0 ft with sets to 3.7 ft). Swell to continue on Sun (8/24) building to 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft with sets to 4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 193 degrees
Mini New Zealand Fetch
A small patch of 35-40 kt west winds tracked under New Zealand on Sun PM (8/18) into Mon AM (8/18) resulting in 32 ft seas over a tiny area 00Z Tues (8/19) at 57S 169E, then dissipating. Perhaps some small 16 sec background swell to result for Tahiti and Hawaii , but nowhere else.
Hawaii: Small background swell to arrive on Mon (8/25) at sunset at 1.3 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) peaking Tues AM (8/26) at 1.6 ft @ 16 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 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 weak high pressure is to be positioned off the Pacific Northwest resulting in a steady fetch of 15 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino and points northward resulting in minimal north short period local windswell for North and Central CA. Low pressure previously on the dateline is to lift northeast and build some over the Eastern Aleutians perhaps generating 35 kt west fetch just south of the Aleutians there, resulting in some seas of interest (but the wave model doesn't depict it yet). So for now we continue wandering through the seasonally appropriate dead zone between the end of Summer and the start of Fall.
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 Tuesday (8/19) the daily Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) was down to -10.99. The 30 day average was down some to -8.09 and the 90 day average was down some at -1.99. 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 the Active Phase of the MJO. High pressure is to build some south of Tahiti Wed-Fri (8/22) then more low pressure is to take over into Tues (8/26) driving the SOI negative again.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral to light west anomalies were over the Maritime Continent and building westerly over the dateline. Modest neutral anomalies extended from there to a point south of Hawaii, then faded to neutral and continued on to the Galapagos though still westerly to the north in the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). A week from now (8/27) neutral anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent continuing on to the dateline turning weak westerly south of Hawaii. Moderate west anomalies are projected from there midway to the Galapagos. There has not been a extended period of trades so far this year, and we're over 227 days into the year. The trend is clearly towards westerly anomalies which suggests a bias towards El Nino. Big westerly wind bursts occurred Jan-April, followed by a neutral period May into early June. The TOA array (surface sensors - the ground truth) indicated moderate westerly anomalies re-developed west of the dateline on 6/25 holding through 7/6, turning neutral on 7/7. But by 7/11 light west anomalies redeveloped holding through 7/20. A legitimate Westerly Wind Burst then formed on 7/23 and held through 8/10, then weakened with neutral anomalies through 8/16. Latest data from the TAO array indicated neutral anomalies continuing on 8/18. 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 8/16 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. Then 8 days out it is to be gone per the Statistic model, while the Dynamic model has it building though the end of the model run 15 days out. The ultra long range upper level model run 8/19 has built suggesting a moderate Inactive Phase was in play over the West Pacific and it is to ease east and fade over Central America 9/18. A weak Active Phase to follow starting in the West Pacific 9/13 tracking east through through 9/28. 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 (even though the model is depicting it strengthening). 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 (8/18), a weakly warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, though is weaker as compared to the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, but not much. It's actually holding up better than expected. Some limited cool water is depicted along the immediate Peruvian Coast streaming west to the Galapagos, but not out into the Nino 3.4 region other than some neutral anomalies (-0.5 degs below normal) south of Hawaii. Cool pockets that were previous exhibited in the heart of the Nino 3.4 region between 120W-160W, are all but gone and warm water continues to fill the voids left behind. +0.5-+1.0 deg C anomalies remain over the dateline, the start of a new Kelvin Wave. 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 and is now dispersing, at least at this moment, 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 entrenched along the California coast and building in coverage, 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. But even the areal coverage of that pocket is in decline, suggesting a warm regime is getting the upper hand over the entire Pacific Basin. Overall the total amount of warmer than normal water in the North Pacific remains impressive, while the South Pacific is starting to trend in the same direction. .
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are holding up remarkably well. Residual warm subsurface water from the previous Kelvin Wave dissipated on 7/31. Temps from it peaked at +6 degs C above normal on 6/21. As of 8/19 a generic +0.5 C anomaly patch 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 8/11 depicts one small pocket of elevated surface water heights at 0 to +5 cm just west of the Galapagos region. Otherwise a building area of +5 to +10 cm anomalies are congealing over the dateline. Subsurface models depict a building pocket of +1.0-+2.0 deg anomalies in place under the dateline and building in coverage while easing east suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave trying to take shape, driven by non-stop weak 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.
Pacific Counter Current data is again available. Data as of 8/17 suggests the current was pushing west to east over the entire West and Central Pacific north of the equator on the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) reaching into Central America. Easterly current was on the equator from 100-150W. But this current was weaker than normal, with west anomalies depicted over small but decently strong areas on the equator at 145W and then again at 120W into the Galapagos. This is very good news suggesting westerly current anomalies are building, perhaps meaning were coming to the end of the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. The situation is vastly improved from June and July during the height of the current upwelling phase. The question remains, will the westerly current build and overtake the easterly component? Latest data suggests that is in fact occurring now and is all tied to whether westerly winds continue or build in the West Pacific reaching over the dateline over the next 30-45 days. Westerly anomalies are forecast to continue....
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 8/19 are relatively unchanged suggesting water temps building to +1.0 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.25 deg C in Dec (down from the +1.75 deg C predicted in May and then revised down to +1.55 deg C predicted in early July) 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: A massive Kelvin Wave was generated by successive Westerly Wind Bursts in Jan-April and erupted in the Galapagos region late June and is now dispersed. The WWB ended on 5/1 with the last of the warm water from it arriving 3 months later over the Galapagos on 8/1. At one point it looked like neutral water temps would be taking over the Galapagos-Ecuador-Peru triangle with no immediate Kelvin Wave reinforcements projected. But that has not occurred. Instead a persistent water temp regime has stabilized there. And a new weak WWB and west anomalies are developing in the West Pacific (starting 6/28). Still that new Kelvin Wave is not expected to 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. But that has not happened. Instead water temps are holding in the Galapagos triangle in the +1.5 degree range. Some other process is at work keeping water temp stable in the Galapagos region (as of 8/19).
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 8 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're just coming out of 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. 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 the pulse of tropical activity near Hawaii on the week of 8/4 and those systems continued evolution in the West Pacific 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 and only a neutral 90 day SOI (rather than a negative one). 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. As of 8/19, all the arguments against a feedback loop being in place were fading out. Instead the SOI was steadily trending negative, the Pacific Counter Current is again starting to trend westerly, and a new Kelvin Wave is building with slightly warmer water already priming the subsurface channel. Assuming the arguments against coupling were all 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 at least some Pacific Basin wide 'change' was not already well entrenched even early this year, and had 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 is now starting to looks much better as of 8/19) and Atlantic hurricane activity (which is nonexistent) is key. But at this time odds continue stacking in favor of a global teleconnection 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 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 cutoff gale is forecast developing east of New Zealand on Fri AM (8/22) producing 35 kt south winds over a small and thin area aimed due north with 26 ft seas at 38S 170W fading to 24 ft in the evening at 34S 165W. The gale is to dissipate after that. Maybe some limited swell to result for Tahiti.
On Monday AM (8/25) a new gale is to start forming south of New Zealand producing 45 kt southwest winds building to storm force with 50 kt south winds forecast by evening lifting north, then moderating on Tuesday to 45 kts but still aimed well to the north. 34-35 ft seas are forecast Mon PM at 55S 175W lifting northeast, likely shadowed by Tahiti relative to California. 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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