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 (8/26) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the thigh to waist high range and clean but generally very weak. Down in Santa Cruz surf was waist to chest high and very clean, but weak. In Southern California up north a mix of southern hemi and tropical storm swell was producing surf in the waist to chest high range and clean and on the increase. Down south waves were chest high to shoulder high with head high sets coming from Hurricane Marie but a bit warbled early. Cleaner further south. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and clean with sideshore warble from east-northeast trades. The South Shore had background swell with waves waist high and clean. On the East Shore trade wind generated windswell was chest 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 hardly rideable local north windswell. But the East Pacific tropics were still active with swell in the water from Hurricane Marie, starting to hit exposed breaks in Southern California and building while pushing northwest. Small secondary southern hemi swell is also in the water hitting California from a small and weak system that tracked under New Zealand on Fri (8/15) with 34 ft seas aimed mainly due east. Beyond a tiny gale formed southeast of Tahiti on Fri (8/22) with 27 ft seas targeting Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast. Small swell possible. Beyond a better pattern remains forecast with a primer gale developing southeast of New Zealand on Tues (8/27) tracking northeast with 27 ft seas and a stronger one forecast directly behind on Wed-Thurs (8/28) with 44 ft seas lifting northeast. Something to monitor.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (8/26) high pressure at 1028 mbs was centered in the Western Gulf of Alaska but retrograded west relative to it's normal position making no real north winds for Northern CA and only light trades from the northeast for Hawaii. As a result windswell was barely rideable in Central CA but there was some modest windswell along east facing shores of the Hawaiian Islands attributable to northeast fetch at 15 kt generated off the southern quadrant of the high. Remnants of Lowell/Karina were interacting with the high northeast of the Islands also producing a gradient and northeast winds at 20 kts, adding a little more period into the mix. But nothing remarkable. But the focus was Hurricane Marie, churning northwest and position 650 nmiles south of Southern CA (see Tropical Update section for details below). Swell is in the water for California and is pushing towards Hawaii.
Over the next 72 hours no real change is expected as Marie fades while tracking northwest and nearly dissipates. But a pair of weak low pressure systems are to develop tracking from Kamchatka east over the Aleutians with the first in the Northern Gulf of Alaska on Thurs (8/28) with 25 kt west winds and a second developing just east of Kamchatka with 30 kt west winds for 6 hours, then fading. No swell to result, but it is a little tease. Still, if a serious El Nino were in play one would expected more tropical activity than is suggested, especially from the West Pacific. Otherwise no pressure gradient/north wind production of interest is forecast over Cape Mendocino meaning no real north windswell production is forecast for California. And trades relative to Hawaii are to start fading on Wednesday and all but gone Thursday (8/28), meaning windswell is to start fading along east facing shores.
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Tropical Update (Tues AM 12z 8/26)
Super Hurricane Marie - Marie peaked on Sun (8/2) at 18Z with winds 140 kts (161 mph) positioned 1075 nmiles from Dana Point on the 161 degree great circle path with seas estimated at 43 ft and about 6 hours after moving into the Dana Point swell window. Assuming a 15 sec period, swell arrival on the coast there would be Tuesday (8/26) at 9 AM. Marie was fading by Sunday evening from 130 kts (150 mph) though still very strong and tracking northwest at 7 kts generating 41 ft seas. Monday AM (8/25) Marie was down to 125 kt winds (144 mph) and 950 nmiles from Dana Point on the 164 degree path with 40 ft seas. Assuming a 15 sec period swell to arrive from that position on Tues (8/26) near 10 PM. By Tues AM (8/26) Marie was fading fast with winds 85 kts and positioned 800 nmiles due south of Dana Point on the 180 degree path. Assuming a 13 sec period swell arrival expected Wed (8/27) near sunset. Rough estimates on swell size suggest peak swell to be 7.5 ft @ 15-16 secs late Tuesday (11 ft faces at exposed breaks) holding into Wed AM then fading. Swell Direction: 159-180 degrees. There even potential for limited energy to reach into only the most exposed breaks in Northern CA. Marie moved into the swell window on 12Z Mon (8/25) when winds were 125 kts (143 mph). At that time it was 1200 nmiles out on the 157 degree path. With period 15 secs, swell arrival would be at 8 AM Wed (8/27) but only at the most exposed breaks. And odds low at that.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Tuesday AM (8/26) weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was positioned well off the North CA coast with no pressure gradient nor north winds over Cape Mendocino. A light wind flow was in place over all of California with no change forecast for several days. Finally late on Saturday high pressure is to build in the Gulf of Alaska and ease east, impacting North CA as the remnants of hurricane Marie east west and out of the picture. North winds to build along the North and Central CA coast Sunday at 15-20 kts covering the entire coast down over the Channel Islands on Mon AM (9/1) at 20 kts with 25 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino. But by Tues (9/2) those 25 kt winds to rapidly retreat to the north isolated to Cape Mendocino with 20 kt winds reaching south to Monterey Bay but positioned well off the coast. And eddy flow is to be in place nearshore reaching up to Pt Arena late AM. This appears to be a short lived even that will not cause significant upwelling.
Jetstream - On Tuesday (8/26) the southern branch of the jet was forming a modest trough southeast of New Zealand with winds 120 kts pushing up into it then falling into a ridge pushing over Antarctica over the Southeast Pacific. The trough in the West Pacific was offering some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere. Over the next 72 hours additional wind energy is to continue feed up into the New Zealand trough as it eases east peaking on Thurs (8/28) at near 140 kts with the winds energy aimed well to the north. Good support for gale development expected there. Beyond 72 hours yet more winds energy to 130 kts is to be pushing up into the trough as it moves east, moving into the East Pacific by Sun (8/31) with support for gale development continuing. Even after that the trough is to hold, but winds levels are to start dropping off fast. Still, limited support for gale development in the East Pacific is possible. This appears to be the start of a nice pattern.
Surface Analysis - On Tuesday (8/26) swell from a tiny gale was in the water fading in Hawaii but arriving in CA now (see Tiny New Zealand Fetch below). Swell from another gale that formed southwest of Tahiti is in the water pushing towards Hawaii and eventually the US West Coast (see Small Tahiti Gale below).
High pressure was stationary over the Tasman Sea opening up the Southwest Pacific for storm production relative to Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast. North winds continued in control over the far Southeast Pacific offering nothing relative to South America and in fact shutting swell production down there.
On Monday PM (8/25) a new gale was forming and tracking northeast from a point south of New Zealand producing 40 kt southwest winds over a modest sized area with seas on the increase. By Tuesday AM (8/26) 40-45 kt southwest winds continued in play over a broader area aimed better to the northeast generating a small area of 30 ft seas at 59S 172W (187 degs HI, 205 degs SCal and 204 degs NCal and barely shadowed by Tahiti) pushing well to the northeast. 35 kt southwest winds are forecast over a broad area Tues PM with 30 ft seas lifting northeast at 57S 161W (181 degs HI, 202 degs SCal and 200 degs NCal and east of the shadowed). Fetch is to be fading fast from 30 kts Wed AM (8/27) with seas fading from 27 ft at 53S 153W aimed decently to the north (199 degs SCal and 198 degs NCal and unshadowed by Tahiti). Perhaps a modest pulse of swell to result for Tahiti, Hawaii, and California.
Another gale to follow directly on the same general path under New Zealand to the northeast starting Wed AM (8/27) with 45 kt west-southwest winds and 30 ft seas building at 61S 175E just off the Ross Ice Shelf (198 degs HI, 209 degs SCal, 208 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). By Wed PM (8/27) a solid area of 50-55 kt southwest winds are forecast lifting northeast with seas building to 41 ft at 58S 173W (188 degs HI, 205 degrees SCal and 204 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti). Winds to be fading from 50 kts Thurs AM (8/28) with a solid area of 41 ft seas forecast at 55S 160W (182 degs HI, 202 degs SCal and 201 degs NCal and east of the Tahiti swell shadow). A rapid fade to follow with winds down to 35 kts in the evening and seas fading fast from 36 ft at 53S 151W (198 degs SCal, 197 degs NCal and unshadowed). Possible solid swell to result for all locations.
Tiny New Zealand Fetch
South CA: Swell arrival expected on Tues (8/26) with swell pushing 1.5 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5 ft) late. Swell to peak on Wed (8/27) at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft faces). Residuals fading on Thurs (8/28) from 1.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 209 degrees. This swell to be buried in hurricane Marie swell.
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.
North CA: Swell arrival expected on Tues (8/26) with swell pushing 1.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.5 ft) late. Swell to peak on Wed (8/27) at 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft faces). Residuals fading on Thurs (8/28) from 1.9 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 207 degrees
Small Tahitian Gale
A small cutoff gale developed 900 nmiles east of the north coast of New Zealand on Fri PM (8/22) with 35 kt south winds over a tiny area aimed north. Seas built to 24 ft at 41S 161W. A broader area of 30-35 kt south winds continued overnight into Sat AM (8/23) with seas building to 26 ft over a larger area near 38S 161W aimed due north. Fetch continued in the evening but aimed more east with 26 ft seas at 34S 151W or just 1000 nmiles southwest of Tahiti. Additional fetch held into Sun AM with 27 ft seas near 34S 144W (199 depress CA). Swell hit Tahiti on Mon (8/25) and is working its way towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Hawaii: Swell arrival expected on Wed PM (8/27) with swell building to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs late (3 ft). Swell building as period drops Thurs (8/28) to 3 ft @ 15 secs late (4.5 ft). Swell holding Fri AM (8/29) at 3.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5-5.0 ft). Swell fading on Sat (8/30) from 3.3 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 191 degrees
Southern CA: Swell arrival expected starting Fri (8/29) building to 1.6 ft @ 16 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell continuing on Sat (8/30) near 2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3 ft) with secondary energy building late. Sun (8/31) swell to peak at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs early (3.5 ft). Swell fading Mon (9/1) from 2.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 210-220 degrees
North CA: Swell arrival expected starting Sat (8/30) pushing 2 ft @ 16 secs late (3 ft). Sun (8/31) swell to peak at 2.3 ft @ 15-16 secs early (3.5 ft). Swell fading Mon (9/1) from 2.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 215 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 start ridging towards the Pacific Northwest coast late on Sat (8/30) with northwest winds building along the immediate North and Central CA coast to 20 kts later Sunday resulting in raw local windswell Mon (9/1). A normal looking pressure gradient is to set up over North CA on Tuesday (9/2) producing 25 kts north winds and the first semi legit windswell for Central CA in weeks. For Hawaii trades are to remain suppressed with no windswell of interest forecast along east facing shores.
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).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Tuesday (8/26) the daily SOI was up to -8.38. The 30 day average was up some to -8.10 and the 90 day average was down some at -3.77. 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. A series of weak low pressure systems are forecast developing near Tahiti over the coming week and falling southeast likely holding the SOI somewhat negative. This is starting to look like the first real signs of El Nino manifesting itself in the SOI.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated neutral anomalies were over the Maritime Continent continuing to the dateline. Neutral anomalies extended from there to a point south of Hawaii then turning light westerly mid-way tot he Galapagos, but fading over the Galapagos. Solid westerly anomalies were in play in the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) from the dateline eastward. A week from now (9/3) light to modest east anomalies are forecast over the Maritime Continent fading near the dateline, then turning to modest westerly anomalies on the dateline continuing to a point south of Hawaii. Winds to turn neutral east of there to the Galapagos. Looking back a few months there has not been a extended period of trades so far this year, and we're over 239 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 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 8/18, turning light westerly 820-8/22. Latest data from the TAO array indicated neutral anomalies in control. 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. It would be hard to make a case stating El Nino was not in play at this point.
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 8/25 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 start fading and be nearly gone 8 days out per the Statistic model and remain neutral 15 days out. The Dynamic model has it holding steady in the modest Inactive state for the next 15 days. The ultra long range upper level model run 8/26 suggests a modest Inactive Phase was in play over the Central Pacific and it is to ease east and fade over Central America 9/10. A weak Active Phase to follow starting in the West Pacific 9/10 tracking east through through 10/5 with a weak Inactive Phase behind it. Recent experience this year suggests this model overhypes any Inactive Phase. As such, we suspect further weaken to express itself as we move into Sept, or at least what actually develops at the surface to be much weaker than what the model suggests. In short, the model does not work well in an El Nino situation. 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. And that is what is happening so far in August. 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 (8/25), a moderately warm water regime remains in control of the equatorial East Pacific, and looking nearly identical to the peak of the Kelvin Wave eruptions in late June, just a little more ragged. It's actually holding up way better than expected. Some limited cool water is depicted along the immediate Peruvian Coast, but even that has retreated compared to a few days ago. No real cool water remains in the Nino 3.4 region with warm anomalies over the entire area. +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 earlier this year has dispersed, 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 preferred, 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 and holding solid. 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 most impressive, while the South Pacific is starting to trend in the same direction.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are on the rebound. 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 8/26 a generic +0.5 C anomaly flow 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 8/21 depicts a solid and building area of +5 cm anomalies are covering the dateline region and starting to track east reaching to 115W. Subsurface models depict a building pocket of +2 deg anomalies in place under the dateline per the TAO array and building in coverage while easing east suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave trying to take shape. But there are no sensors going through the heart of the Kelvin Wave (at 170W). Some models depict peak temps there at +3 degs nearing +4 degrees. Regardless, they all suggest the Kelvin wave is pushing east, as is the satellite height anomaly data. There is no hard data to discern the truth of the situation. But, +3 deg anomalies would not seem unreasonable. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content suggests a new Kelvin Wave is developing in the west, with the cool upwelling Phase of the previous Kelvin Wave all but gone except east of 115W. As the last of the cool water anomalies dribble out of the 'pipe' in the east, and westerly anomalies continue, they will feed more warm water into the building Kelvin Wave. One more solid Kelvin Wave is required to warm waters to the El Nino threshold. But even without that, it appears some other process is in-play favoring warm water accumulation in the Galapagos region. If this process holds, We could be over the proverbial 'hump'. And when the developing Kelvin Wave arrives at the Galapagos 2-3 months later (~Sept 30), more warm water will reinforce the existing warm pool theoretically pushing things well into El Nino territory. That cannot be declared until it happens, but everything is starting to line up.
Pacific Counter Current data is again available. Data as of 8/22 suggests things are continuing to improve. 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 130-180W but exceedingly weak, with west anomalies from 150W into the Galapagos and strong west anomalies from 135 though 100W. This is great news and suggests the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave is over. The situation is vastly improved from June and July during the height of the current upwelling phase and continues to improve with each update. As of right now it appears the westerly current is building and overtaking the easterly component. We assume it is all tied to continued westerly winds 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 8/26 have moderated more suggesting water temps building to +0.6 deg C by early Oct peaking at +1.1 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 May 2015, then presumably 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 not much different temperature wise from what it was at the peak of Kelvin Wave impact. And renewed WWB and west anomalies are in-play 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 8/21).
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 data suggests we're 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 another gale to follow directly on the same general path as the previous gale on Sat PM (8/30) with 45 kt south-southwest winds forecast lifting northeast with seas building to 28 ft over a solid area on Sun AM (8/31) at 50S 146W targeting mainly The US West Coast with sideband energy towards Tahiti and Hawaii. Winds to be fading in the evening from 35-40 kts with 30 ft seas at 48S 138W (201 degs SCal, 200 degs NCal and unshadowed). Fetch fading to 35-40 kts and turning more westerly on Mon AM (9/1) with seas fading from 28-30 ft at 50 S 129W (185 degs CA).
More potential swell to monitor. It looks like summer might finally be starting.
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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