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.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
- Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.8 ft @ 6.2 secs with swell 3.9 ft @ 6.4 secs from 131 degrees.
- Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 6.0 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 6.3 secs. Wind northwest 8-10 kts. Water temperature 73.0 degrees. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.9 ft @ 6.2 secs from 256 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.2 ft @ 6.3 secs from 266 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 1.2 ft @ 12.9 secs from 203 degrees.
- Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 9.8 secs. Wind north 2 kts. Water temp 63.7 degs.
Buoy 46059 is scheduled to come back on-line in October.
Pt Reyes buoy 029 scheduled for reactivation.
On Thursday (10/1) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the thigh to waist high range and very clean with overcast sky. Down in Santa Cruz surf was flat with occasional thigh high peaks and clean. In Southern California up north waves were flat and clean. Down south surf was knee to thigh high and textured nearly breaking on the beach. Hawaii's North Shore was getting tradewind generated wrap-around easterly windswell at waist to maybe chest high and a little warbled from east-northeast winds. The South Shore was effectively flat with waves knee high and clean. The East Shore was getting local east-northeast windswell with waves head high and heavily chopped from enhanced trades.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
For the North Pacific a gale was generating 28 ft seas aimed south mainly at Hawaii. Swell is being generated, finally. High pressure was barely getting a toe in the door north of Hawaii generating enhanced trades localized to just the Islands but nowhere east of there resulting in decent sized northeast windswell along exposed east facing shores. For California, weak low pressure was poised to move inland near Monterey Bay eliminating high pressure and any local north windswell that would otherwise be in.cgiay. The tropics were weak with no swell producing systems occurring.
Looking at the forecast charts the gale in the Gulf is to hold in some form until Fri AM (10/2) then fade out. High pressure is to develop in the far Northeastern Gulf for the weekend resulting in 25-30 kt north winds over Cape Mendocino Sat-Sun (10/4) producing some windswell relative to North and Central CA, but that's it. Maybe some sideband swell from the Gulf Gale to be in the mix too. High pressure over the dateline is to form a gradient with developing tropical low pressure south of Hawaii enhanced trades for Hawaii through the weekend too but most of that fetch is to start at Hawaii and be west of there. Perhaps some short period east windswell to result. But the big story will be arrival of a decent sized north-northeast swell courtesy of the gale currently in the Gulf. And much tropical development is forecast but all west of Hawaii attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area that is starting now. And of more interest is a large trough forecast carving out all of the Gulf of Alaska long term with a broad low pressure system forecast developing at the surface. No solid swell producing winds are yet forecast, but it offers some hope. Down south swell from a gale that tracked east under New Zealand on Tues (9/29) generating 34 ft seas is pushing towards Hawaii, but size to be minimal. A stronger but smaller storm developed in the deep Central Pacific on Wed-Thurs (10/1) with up to 40 ft seas offering another spurt of small longer period swell. And a stronger storm is forecast tracking under New Zealand on Fri-Sat (10/3) producing 48-53 ft seas targeting Tahiti, CA and HI. And more is forecast in the New Zealand corridor later next week. And El Nino continues slowly evolving with Kelvin Wave #3 erupting painfully slow west of the Galapagos.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
On Thurs AM (10/1) the jet was pushing east off Japan with winds 150 kts forming a trough the ridging up to the intersection of the dateline and the Aleutians before falling into a steep trough in the Gulf with 130 kt winds in it's west flank feeding it, then .cgiitting and pushing into North Canada and Central CA simultaneously. There was support for gale development in both the troughs, though the one in the Gulf owned the most potential. Over the next 72 hours the Gulf trough is to quickly get cut off, with the main flow tracking off to the north over Alaska while the trough off Japan fades out. But the upper circulation associated with Gulf trough is to continue holding it's ground and by Sun AM (10/4) it's to start drawing energy pushing off Japan into it. The net result is to be a flow of 130 kts winds arching northeast off Japan reaching the north dateline region, then falling southeast into a potential new trough in the Central Gulf. Support for low pressure there. Beyond 72 hours a significant improvement in the pattern is forecast and by Tues (10/6) 120 kts winds to be arching off Japan forming a ridge over the dateline then falling into a solid trough north of Hawaii reaching down to 30N. That trough is to hold and only build into Thurs (10/8) with 140 kts winds falling into it from off Kamchatka reaching down to 36N mid-way between Hawaii and Central CA offering great support for gale development. This actually looks like a legitimate winter jetstream configuration, only occurring in October. Of course, this is just a forecast and what actually happens will likely be something less. Still, it's a step in the right direction.
On Thurs AM (10/1) an improving pattern was indicated though not ideal. 3 low pressure systems were in flight, one in the Gulf, one east of Kamchatka and one over North Japan. Unfortunately high pressure was east of Japan driving the storm track over the Kurils and up into the Bering Sea over the West Pacific. But the gale in the Gulf was looking solid (see Gulf Gale below). Otherwise a light pressure pattern was off California offering no source for windswell development. High pressure was just north of Hawaii generating trades there at 15-20 kts over the Islands but not east of there, and continuing at 20 kts west of Hawaii. This was generating east short period windswell for exposed east shores. But windswell is going to quickly becomes a non-concern, at least for Hawaii. Also a broad pool of low pressure was developing south and west of Hawaii extending to 160E associated with a developing Westerly Wind Burst associated with El Nino.
Over the next 72 hours the gale in the Gulf is to fade out late Fri (10/2) with high pressure developing in the Northern Gulf ridging south to Cape Mendocino by Sat AM (10/3) generating 30 kt north winds there and holding into early Sun AM (10/4) producing local north windswell down into Central CA. But the gradient is to fade out fast Sun AM with windswell dissipating with it. Remnant low pressure from the Gulf Gale (below) is to continue circulating in the Central Gulf but producing no fetch of interest.
The Westerly Wind Burst is forecast to evolve spanning a large area of tropical low pressure in the tropical West Pacific near 17N 170E but with west winds at 15kt reaching south to 5N later Thurs (10/1) and building while tracking west-northwest, reaching 20N 157E by Sun AM (10/4). A broad generic area of tropical low pressure is to also develop south of Hawaii extending from 155W to 175W with a tropical depression likely to result long term.
Low pressure developed in the Western Gulf Wed AM (9/30) generating 35 kt north winds and starting to get some traction on the oceans surface while easing east. By Wed PM winds built to 50 kts over a tiny area aimed south-southwest with seas building from 28 ft at 42N 150W. A slightly larger fetch of 45 kt north winds held into Thurs AM (10/1) with seas building to 30 ft at 42N 147W aimed well at Hawaii. Fetch to start fading from 40 kts in the evening aimed southwest almost west of Hawaii with seas fading from 28 ft at 44N 149W generating more swell targeting mainly Hawaii. Fetch is to be fading from 35 kts from the northeast Fri AM (10/2) with seas fading from 26 ft over a tiny area at 43N 152W. This system to be gone after that. Most swell is to be targeting Hawaii with only low odds of sideband swell for Central CA southward.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late on Fri (10/2) pushing 4 ft @ 15 secs (6 ft) on the North Shore of Oahu. Swell peaking early Sat (10/3) at 6.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (9 ft). Swell continuing on Sun AM (10/4) fading slowly from 6.5 ft @ 14 secs (9 ft). Residuals Mon AM (10/5) fading from 4 ft 2 11-12 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 15 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest were occurring for now, but a broad area of low pressure associated with a westerly wind burst in the equatorial West Pacific is expected to spawn mult.cgie tropical systems (see Long Term Forecast below).
California Nearshore Forecast
On Thurs (10/1) a weak low pressure system was moving inshore over Central CA coast with a light wind pattern in.cgiay. North winds to start building Fri AM at 15-20 kts over North and Central CA building to 25 kts over North CA later and pushing 30-35 kts Saturday (with a far lighter flow over Central CA). The gradient is to start fading rapidly Sun AM with north winds fading from 20 kts over North CA early and gone late. A light wind pattern is forecast onward through Thurs (10/8) as a broad low builds in the Gulf.
On Tues AM (9/29) small swell from a New Zealand Gale was tracking towards Tahiti and Hawaii (see Small New Zealand Gale below). A storm was also tracking across the deep Southwest Pacific generating seas of interest (see Southwest Pacific Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours a stronger but small storm is forecast developing southwest of New Zealand on Fri PM (10/2) with 60-65 kt west winds over a small area generating a tiny area of 52 ft seas at 54S 155E (220 degs CA, shadowed by NZ relative to HI). By Sat AM (10/3) 50 kt southwest winds to be positioned directly south of New Zealand generating 49 ft seas at 54S 167E (200 degs HI, 217 degs CA - shadowed by Tahiti in SCal). Fetch is to be fading from 40 kts over a decent sized area Sat PM with seas fading from 41 ft at 54S 178E (192 degs HI, 212 degs CA and shadowed by Tahiti for SCal). This system to be gone by Sun AM (10/4). If all goes as forecast some decent long period swell should result for Tahiti, Hawaii and the US West Coast.
Small New Zealand Gale
A gale formed while tracking under New Zealand Mon PM (9/28) producing 45 kt west-southwest winds and seas building from 32 ft at 60S 170E. On Tues AM (9/29) the fetch was covering a solid area at 40 kts all from the west with seas building to 33 ft at 59S 180W. By evening fetch was fading fast with seas dropping from 29 ft at 58S 165W. Sideband swell is likely for Tahiti and maybe minimal energy for Hawaii but the extreme east to almost southeast fetch heading is not favorable for solid swell propagation to the northeast.
Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (10/6) building to 1.5 ft @ 17 secs late (2.5 ft). Swell to continue Wed (10/7) fading from 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees
Southwest Pacific Gale
Another small but stronger system developed in the deep Southwest Pacific on Wed AM (9/30) producing a tiny area of 55 kt west winds and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Wed PM 50 kt west winds were tracking flat east generating 40 ft seas over a tiny area at 61S 174W on the northern edge of the Ross Ice Shelf. This system tracked east Thurs AM (10/1) with 40-45 kt southwest winds starting to fade resulting in 39 ft seas at 59S 162W. Winds to be fading from 40 kts in the evening with seas fading from 31 ft at 57S 150W. Better odds for swell from this one targeting mainly Chile and Peru with sideband energy up into California and Hawaii.
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 residual low pressure from the previous gale in the Gulf (above) is to continue circulating and then start redeveloping on Wed (10/7) aided by an forecast improving jetstream flow aloft. Northwest winds to build to 20-25 kts over a large area later Thurs (10/8) targeting primarily Hawaii with a front poised 500 nmiles off Northern CA. But no clear Fall-like swell is expected.
A broad tropical system that is to be developing fueled by a WWB in the West Pacific is to start tracking north Tues (10/6) and building while accelerating, pushing north and over the Kuril Islands later Thurs (10/8). No swell production is forecast for our forecast area. Kamchatka to be the main target. High pressure over the dateline is to be blocking the north storm track east, prevent it from recurving to the northeast into the Gulf.
A second broad area of low pressure south of Hawaii also associated with the WWB is to continue trying to evolve, but never really getting it's act together. Fetch is to remain mostly ill defined. Still, all interests in the Hawaiian Islands should monitor this situation closely.
Beyond 72 hours a weaker gale pattern is forecast still migrating under New Zealand, typical of an El Nino season. One of those to generate 36 ft seas on Thurs (10/8). Something to monitor.
Details to follow...
Nino3.4 Anomalies Improving Both East and West
WWB Developing in KWGA
The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. 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. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).E.cgianation of data layout below: Major sections are organized in cause-and-effect sequence starting with wind conditions/forecasts for the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA - equatorial West Pacific) followed by subsurface ocean temperature conditions (i.e. monitoring for Kelvin Waves), then ocean surface temperature conditions (i.e Nino 1.2 and 3.4) followed by atmospheric co.cgiing analysis. The 1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data and is typically updated with each new forecast. The 2nd paragraph, where present, provides analysis and context and is updated as required.
Overview: A strong El Nino is developing. It began its lifecycle in late 2013 as a primer WWB and Kelvin Wave developed. Then in early 2014 a historically strong push by the Active Phase of the MJO resulted in a large Kelvin Wave, and anomalies continued in the Spring into early Summer transporting more warm water eastward. But the cycle faltered in July due to a protracted bout of the Inactive Phase of the MJO which enabled the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle to manifest driving cooler water east, muting warm water buildup along the Ecuador coast. Still the warm water pipe remained open, but surface temperatures near the Galapagos never recovered and any atmospheric momentum was lost. Then in early 2015, another historically strong push from the MJO occurred, effectively a repeat of the early 2014 event, invigorating the warm water transport process and, adding more heat to an already anomalously warm surface pool off Ecuador. That pool has been building steadily in spurts ever since. The paragraphs below describe the current status of various El Nino indicators, followed by a few paragraphs that tie all the pieces together and provide our analysis of what is to come.
KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast: As of Thurs (10/1):
Analysis from TAO Buoys: Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated moderate west winds (not anomalies) from 162E-175W mostly north of the equator. West winds at 12 kts were in the eastern KWGA at 5N from 153E to 172E. Anomalies continued strong from the west from 162E to 150W on and north of the equator with some anomalies north of the equator extending east to 120W. This is an improving setup and suggest a Westerly Wind burst is developing. This pattern has been in control in some form since 9/2, intensified some 9/17 and holding, and is intensifying again as of 10/1. This pattern has been locked over the eastern half of the KWGA, which is a normal configuration as El Nino matures. Previously, west anomalies were steady for a 29 day window (7/19-8/19) and followed directly behind a very strong WWB burst (third of the year) that was associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) 6/24-7/17 (nearly 2 months of west anomalies or stronger). Starting 9/2 a steady Westerly Wind anomaly pattern set up from 160E over the dateline intensifying some 9/17 and is holding through today. Most impressive.
1 Week Forecast: West anomalies if not west winds are starting to rebuild on 10/1 at 175W and points east of there and and forecast holding through 10/7. The GFS model depicts west winds mostly north of the KWGA in the InterTropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) for the next few days, at 20-25 kts up at 9N and easing west through Tues (10/6). West winds are to be building south with 15 kt west winds at 5N and good coverage of 10-15 kt west winds in the heart of the KWGA from 155E to 180W then slowly tracking west into Mon (10/5). Good west wind coverage at 18 kts is forecast back to 135E Mon-Tues (10/6) the slowly fading out. But continued west winds at 15 kts is to be up at 8N through Thurs (10/8) extending the length of the KWGA and 10 kts at 5N and south of it. This situation looks like a full-on WWB. Elsewhere in the KWGA a slack wind pattern is to continue. This remains a great and improving situation. No east anomalies have occurred this year in the KWGA, not one day, and none are forecast. The thought is these anomalies are continuing to push warm water from the West Pacific to depth and though not generating a distinct Kelvin Wave, are filling the semi permanent reservoir already present west of the Galapagos.
A huge WWB occurred in March followed by a second smaller one (9 day duration) in early May with weaker but still solid west anomalies continuing after that through 6/10. Anomalies faded to neutral for 8 days through 6/18 as the Inactive Phase of the MJO interfered with the pattern (the first such event of the year), then weak westerlies started again on 6/18. A significant WWB, the strongest of the year so far, starting on 6/26 peaking near 7/4 but held nicely through 7/17 (22 days), the result of a historically strong Active Phase of the MJO which produced a strong and large Kelvin Wave, the third this year and the strongest by far. Moderate westerly anomalies redeveloped 7/29 when a Rossby Wave started interacting with the building El Nino base state, enhancing the westerly flow, developing a mini-WWB at 175E through 8/5. And westerly anomalies continued through 8/19. That is nearly 2 months of non-stop anomalies if not out and out west winds (6/26-8/19). From 8/19-8/25 lesser westerly anomalies occurred and those were mainly east of the KWGA, with dead neutral anomalies in the West KWGA. West anomalies started rebuilding on 8/26 and turned to legit west winds up at 9N on 9/3 and held in some fashion up there into 9/29 while calm winds held in the KWGA proper. And now strong west winds are forecast. West wind anomalies at the surface are the hallmark of the Active Phase of the MJO and El Nino and drive Kelvin Wave production.
Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here
Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections: As of 10/1:
OLR Models: Indicate a dead neutral signal over the far West Pacific typical of a maturing El Nino. Both the Statistic and Dynamic model suggests an INactive pattern over the far West Pacific with no MJO pattern over the dateline and east of there and that is to hold for for the next 15 days. This is typical of the pattern when an El Nino base state strengthens.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): Both models indicate perhaps some for of 'MJO-like' signal forecast. The GEFS suggests a legit Active Phase developing starting now initially in the Indian Ocean then becoming more pronounced while moving into the West Pacific 1-2 weeks out. The ECMF is less optimistic, depicting it starting and fading in the Indian Ocean, and never developing fully. In reality, this is likely not the MJO, but likely an enhanced El Nino base state westerly wind burst starting now.
40 Day Upper Level Model: It depicts a weak Inactive Phase in the far West Pacific tracking east. In reality, this pattern has been on the charts for weeks now and consistently fails to materialize. It is suspected the stronger El Nino base state is in control, but exhibits an Inactive-like MJO pattern over the far West Pacific, with an Active-like pattern over the dateline and points east of there, but not moving. The model thinks it's a real Inactive Phase in a normal year in the West Pacific and tries to move it east. Clearly that is not the case. We are ignoring this model.
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb wind): A weak push of the supposed Active Phase of the MJO is occurring now and is to hold through 10/21 enhanced mid-Oct by a Rossby Wave. We don't believe this will be an Active Phase, per say, but instead an El Nino fueled Westerly Wind event (that manifests on the EOF charts like an Active MJO). An Inactive Phase to follow 10/22-11/8. Still west anomalies are to continue unabated. Perhaps another Inactive Phase behind that starting 12/5 but we don't believe that either. Regardless west anomalies are to hold while slowly easing east centered near 150W by 12/30, suggesting the coming end of El Nino generation. The El Nino base state is now the primary driver of Westerly Anomalies from here forward. No easterly anomalies are forecast. We are entering the core of the EL Nino cycle (Oct-Dec) The question is, will another Kelvin Wave result or will the anomalies at least continue to fuel the subsurface warm reservoir into Dec? We think probably so. Is it possible this El Nino might last longer than previously expected? Too early to tell but we think not. At a minimum, three more months of west anomalies are forecast (per the model). Tropical systems have the best chance of constructively interfering (enhancing) westerly anomalies from here forward. We're on autopilot now. It doesn't get any better than this unless you're back in 1997.
CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc
Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (10/1) Actual temperatures remain impressive. A tongue of 29 deg temps are pushing east from 140E to 140W and appear poised to try and make a push east. The 28 deg Isotherm reaches east to 130W (retreating west some). Anomaly wise +2.0 degs anomalies are fully bulging from the dateline eastward and +4 deg anomalies cover from 150W eastward (easing east), the direct effect of the massive June-July WWB and non-stop westerly anomalies ever since. A large warm reservoir at +5-7 deg above normal is starting to erupt into the Galapagos. That reservoir is holding coverage with peak +7 degs anomalies centered at 105W (easing east some) with +5 deg anomalies extending east from 135W to Ecuador (easing east). This pocket is a mixture of warm water from a WWB in early May merging with water from the most recent strong WWB in late June-July and more warm water moving in from the dateline. The pipe is wide open. And warm warm water continues falling to depth near the dateline and into this reservoir. Warm waters appears to be erupting west of the Galapagos per the hi-res subsurface animation (9/25) at 105W at +4C with +3 deg C surface movement of the warm pool 130W-->105W.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA): (9/25) It is holding solid depicting 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 177E (expanding slightly). Peak anomalies were +15 cm extending from 102W to 135W (shrinking). +5 cm anomalies are pushing into Ecuador. This update (9/25) indicates arrival of the 3rd Kelvin wave with peak heating subsurface from the Galapagos westward. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with a large Kelvin Wave in flight. This is a classic major El Nino setup.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: As of (9/25) it indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 178W and the Galapagos (holding). +1.0-1.5 degs are easing east from 154W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same tracking east from 145W. A large pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 135W-->90W (easing east slightly). The previous large pocket of +2.5 deg anomalies that covered 20 degrees of distance has shrunk to 10 degrees between 120W-->110W (easing east and shrinking). A previous pocket of cooler 0.5-1.0 degs anomalies between the Galapagos and Ecuador is gone with +1.5 anomalies the while way into Ecuador. The Downwelling Phase of Kelvin Wave #3 is erupting now. Whatever we get is all there is going to be.
A strong Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June with a second somewhat weaker one impacting it in June. And now a third is erupting, but westward di.cgiaced just west of the Galapagos and not as strong as one would expect. A previous pause in warming near Ecuador occurred starting mid August, attributable to the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle, but ended on 9/20. The subsurface configuration suggests there are 2.5+ months of warm water in this reservoir (till Dec 15) and some of that water is extremely warm (7 degs above normal). The peak was forecast to occur roughly on 10/4 in the Nino 1.2 region but we are revising that to 11/4 now given stalling effect the Upwelling Phase had. And westerly anomalies continue in the KWGA pushing more warm water to depth. Still, the fact that this massive Kelvin Wave is not having a more marked impact on surface temps is pe.cgiexing. Is this third Kelvin Wave the final one, or will another follow? Or maybe just a continued r.cgienishment of the warm pool will continue for the next month or more driven by El Nino fueled westerly anomalies. We all hope the answer is more is on the way. But that is entirely dependent upon how strong the El Nino base state really is. All data suggests this is a good setup, but not manifesting itself in a robust or aggressive manner. Typical of the character of this El Nino event, it is maddeningly slow and underwhelming.
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.
Low-res: (10/1) Overall the picture is solid. Warmer waters are building up into Central America and south into Peru and filling the Nino3.4 region nicely. The warm water signal covers the entire equatorial Pacific from the dateline eastward with embedded pulses of warmer water now depicted from Ecuador to 130W (wave-like pulses). And the pattern is getting better defined and is exhibiting more concentration compared to previous days data. The overall signature is the strongest of any point so far this year and of any time since mid-July 1997. Compared to '97, 2015 anomalies are warmer in the Nino3.4 region, but have less concentration and coverage in Nino1.2. Surprisingly coverage south of the equator is growing and trying to obtain par with '97. Overall, the current expansion of water temps is impressive. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there but has lost some ground in the past month. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast and is holding and extending west the whole way to Japan but unrelated to this years El Nino, attributable to the building warm phase of the PDO. Slightly cool water is over North Australia extending north of New Guinea to the dateline. The cool wake of previous tropical systems have all but faded off Japan and the Philippines. Warming water continues near Madagascar suggestive of a building Indian Ocean Dipole.
Hi-res Nino1.2: (9/30) Temps have lost a little coverage the past 2 days, but are still holding in the respectable range. +2.5 anomalies fill the Ecuador-Galapagos region with a small pocket to +4.0 off the immediate Ecuador coast. A tiny cool pocket is holding just north of the Galapagos and has increased coverage the past 2 days. Still were not seeing any aggressive warming here, which leads us to believe the Kelvin Wave eruption area is westward di.cgiaced. Warming in this area peaked on 7/14 then crashed and has been trying to rebuild ever since. Given its been 2.5 months, and warming has not redeveloped to previous levels, di.cgiacement is the only e.cgianation.
Galapagos Virtual Station: (9/30) Anomalies have faded down to 3.2 degree, fading from +3.6 on 9/28 and down from +4.0 degs on 9/26 and attributable to the tiny cool pocket just east of the Galapagos. Previously a solid reading occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had arrived, then built to +5.45 degs on 6/14. Temps faded from that high peak down to +4.1 degs in late June then rebuilt up to +4.94 on 7/17. Then a fade set in, down to +3.1 degs as of 7/31 and bouncing from +3.1-3.5 through 8/7, then falling dramatically to +2.0 on 8/10 and held at +2.1-2.3 degrees 8/14-8/19. Temps built to +2.7-3.2 8/22-8/27 and up to +3.5 on 9/5 then down to +3.2 degs on 9/9. A dramatic rise started 9/12 pushing up to +5.3 on 9/16 flirting with peak temps received back in 6/14 (+5.5). But a bit of a fade occurred 9/17 down to +4.5 falling to 3.8 degs on 9/23 then anomalies stabilized at +4.0 degs. A quick look at the Nino1.2 hi-res imagery e.cgiains the situation, with the last little pocket of the upwelling phase cooler waters moving into the East Galapagos.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (9/30): Warming in the south end of Nino1.2 off Peru and Chile has restarted weakly. Cooling on the equator either side of the Galapagos has reappeared. Light warming is depicted in pockets well west of there from 105W to the dateline.
Hi-res NINO 3.4: (9/30) The latest image remains impressive in the east part of the region, and is improving in the west. A solid pool of warm surface water remains unbroken advecting west from from the Galapagos westward with +2.25 degs anomalies from a previous Kelvin Wave reaching west to at least 160W. Within that, 3 pockets of +4 deg anomalies are present west of the Galapagos at 97W and 105W and increasing in coverage with a third at 113W fading while advecting west. These pockets are the leading edge/breach point of Kelvin Wave #3. These anomalies actually have rebuilt some in the past 2 days (see previous image here 9/28), but are nowhere near the peak when Kevin Wave #3 first started breaching on 9/19. Still, it looks respectable. Coverage of anomalies west of 150W have filled in completely, with a previous patch of thinning temps at 150W gone. Previously +2.25 anomalies reached to 133W on 7/16 and then 138W (7/31) pushing to 149W on 8/10 and 158W on 8/15 and filling the area to 160W on 8/30 solidly. But a breakup started on 9/5 at 155W, regrouped 9/15 and held solid to 9/23, But has lost coverage since. This is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of the 1st and 2nd Kelvin Waves earlier this year. And the third one is just starting to present and will likely refill this area west of 150W a few weeks out.
Hi-res Overview: (9/30) Like the low-res image, the El Nino signal is unmistakable and the strongest since 1997, and stronger than anything in the satellite age prior to that. The intensity of warm anomalies in the eruption site west of the Galapagos has stabilized since 9/28. All anomalies are in the 4-5 deg range, where as when it peaked on 9/16 there were 3 clearly defined pockets at +5 degs. Still three pockets are persisting, the vent ports for Kevin Wave #3. Temps between 160W-180W have regained ground too, building almost back to levels on 9/16. Nino3.4 temps are on the upswing per visual inspection of the satellite imagery. With building westerly anomalies and a WWB in the West Pacific, that seems to be helping the situation. Given the subsurface situation, surface water temps should be raging. They had been in a holding pattern if not backsliding from 9/20-9/28, but are finally improving. This is good.
SST Anomalies on 9/14/2015 and what is driving them from below.
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial East Pacific, the warmest in years, advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline and beyond (holding at 175E). We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line on the equator to see if it's moving east. Today its at 155E (steady). +1.5 deg anomalies have rebuilt in the west with the core unbroken temps at 180W. There is also a massive embedded area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 175W with +3.0 deg anomalies depicted embedded in it but shrinking to a pocket at 115W. Overall the warm water signature is rebuilding and moving west and regaining impressiveness (if there's such a word).
Nino1.2 Index Temps: (10/1) Temps have stabalized at +1.9 today. They bottomed out at +1.265 degs on 9/15, and have been slowly rebuilding since. This is consistent with what is being indicated in the hi-res Nino1.2 imagery. Previously temps hovered at +2.1 degrees early June then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded, then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again at +3.0 degs on 7/22. Temps fell to +1.9 degrees on 7/27 and bottomed out at +1.0 degs on 8/20 at the height of the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle. Then temps started building to +1.3 on 8/26 and +1.7 by 8/29 and to +2.0 by 9/8 before falling, down to +1.265 degs on 9/15. They started rising after that as Kelvin Wave #3 started arriving.
Nino 3.4 Index Temps: Temps are rising today at +2.037, having spiked on 9/17 at +2.077 then falling some only to start rebuilding recently. The all time peak for this event was +2.24 degs on 8/23 (one day). We are approaching that level again in fit's and starts. By any normal standard we are in Strong El Nino. We expect these temps to continue upward for the foreseeable future. (Note: These temps are OISSTv.4). In '97 for Sept the monthly anomaly in Nino3.4 was +2.21 (OISST.v2) The data for (Aug 2015) was +2.06. Will be interesting to see what the Sept posting looks like. For OISSTv.4 in Aug it was +1.74 ('97) and +1.49 (2015). Aug data is just a bit behind '97. Based on what is happening in the Nino 1.2 region, with the 3rd Kelvin Wave apparently starting to erupt there, the thought is additional warming is poised to occur in Nino3.4 with a 1 month delay. Water temps previously held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April, then started building pushing +1.5 degs on 6/30, held then crept up, peaking at +1.75 degs on 7/19 and +1.7 degs on 7/29, pushing +1.8 of 8/10 and +2.24 on 8/23.
Special Analysis (9/3): We performed an analysis of Nino1.2 and Nino3.4 weekly anomalies temps using OISST.v2 data. A very interesting pattern emerged: Nino1.2 temps are averaging lower in this years event to date compared to '97, but the Nino3.4 temps are higher. Specifically the Nino1.2 anomaly average for the period 4/30-8/26 for 2015 is +2.42 while in '97 is was +3.43. Meanwhile west of there in the Nino3.4 region, the average for 2015 is +1.49 while it was +1.42 in '97. This suggests the 2015 event is more focused west of the Galapagos as compared to '97. And looking at the Nino4 region, the same pattern emerges. A si.cgie view of SST anomaly charts clearly indicates the same thing. There was much more heating in the Galapagos region in '97, while in 2015 the warmth is di.cgiaced more to the west.
If you narrow the focus to just the timeframe July through August the same trend emerges with Nino1.2 anomalies +1.52 degs warmer in '97 compared to 2015 and Nino 3.4 temps almost dead even (-0.03 in 2015).
Regardless, the working theory is this years event is westward di.cgiaced somewhat like the '82/83 super El Nino event. The main evidence for this is the eruption of Kelvin Wave #3 west of the Galapagos. Though that eruption is fading some now, and with no evidence to suggest peak eruption is occurring in the Nino1.2 region proper (yet), we will continue with this theory. This suggests the Walker circulation is not di.cgiaced as far east as in '97 but more like '82/83. At this time we're unsure what the effects on rainfall would be. Total rainfall in San Francisco in '82/83 was 38.17" (+16.38") versus 47.22" in '97/98 (+25.43"). The long term average is 21.79". In LA in '82/83 it was 31.28" (+16.47) versus 31.01" in '97 (+16.2"). Long term average 14.81". Regardless, both events were well above average. This also suggests the core of storm production will be north of the most warming. So rather than the Eastern to Central Gulf of Alaska being the focus, it might be more in the Western Gulf. This is actually a good thing relative to California by perhaps giving resulting swells more room to groom themselves before hitting the coast. This might bode not so well for Hawaii, with large stormy conditions the result. Of course, this is just speculation at this time.
Pacific Counter Current: As of 9/16 the current was moderate but not overly impressive. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific north of the equator from 130E to 155W, and still solid but fading while pushing west to 130W before fading out at 90W. A stream of weak to modest east current was just south of the equator from 110W to the dateline. Anomaly wise - modest west anomalies were spread mostly north of the equator over the West Pacific, with a strong pocket north of the equator from 170E to 150W, then fading with another pocket at 100W. One pocket of east anomalies was indicated south of the equator from 140W to the dateline. This is not impressive but not unimpressive either. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 the current was raging east from 130E to 130W mainly north of the equator.
SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 model - PDF Corrected: For the model run 10/1 for the Nino 3.4 region, peak temperatures for this event are stable. Water temps are at +1.75 deg C (verified at 2.0 degs today) and are to fade some to +1.75 degs by Oct peaking at +1.85 degs by Nov, then dropping off. Considering temps in Nino3.4 now and the size of the new Kelvin Wave below, we suspect this projection is well on the low side. Uncorrected data has stabilized suggesting a peak to +2.45 degs in Nov. We'll venture a guess of somewhere around +2.3 degs for a one month peak in Oct-Nov but suspect that might be on the low side.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Sept Plume has upgraded again, suggesting peak temps between +2.1 degs (Statistical models), +2.5 degs (Dynamic) with the CPC consensus at +2.45. The mid-July consensus was spread between +1.5-2.0 degs and the mid-Aug between +2.0-2.5 degs. See chart here - link.
If one is to make a direct comparison of the 2015 event to '97 at this time of year based on the areal coverage of water temps, there is no comparison. '97 imagery leaves this years event in the dust. The '97 event built non-stop from this point forward (in terms of areal coverage). Instead, the 2015 event, though warming nicely with comparable to stronger anomalies in Nino3.4 and Nino4, is weak in Nino1.2 and the coverage of warm waters is a worm in this area compared to '97s mammoth coverage. A clear and significant downgrade occurred in the Galapagos area 8/12-8/20 the result of a pause in upwelling of warm water in that region, a break between the first and second Kelvin wave eruptions and the third poised just off Ecuador. It trued to rebuild then fell back on 9/8 and then started rebuilding 9/15. The good news is concerns about these cooler waters advecting west and impacting temps in the Nino3.4 region are gone, with regent warming from the 3rd Kelvin Wave already eliminating those cool pockets. And things are just getting started. Peak temps in western Nino 1.2 expected 10/4 then advecting to Nino 3.4 on 11/4.
Atmospheric Co.cgiing Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change):
Daily Southern Oscillation Index (10/1): Was falling from -29.90. Of note: The 97 El Nino had daily values at -40 to -50 in early Nov with one spurt to -76 Jan 30-31st.
30 Day Average: Was falling from -17.21. The lowest point in years was achieved -20.95 on 8/21, with the previous lowest at -20.49 on 7/18/15.
90 Day Average: Was steady at -16.21. The peak low was obtained on 9/16 at -18.56. This is the critical threshold we've been anticipating (values -18 or lower), providing yet more evidence of strong atmospheric co.cgiing. But we had hoped it would hold there. It has not, but will likely start falling again as it picks up the negative numbers in the daily index. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July and on a steady fall ever since, bottomed out at a low reading on 8/5 at -14.17, then beat it on 9/2 at -15.23, and peaked (9/16) at -18.56 (peak low of the year so far).
Trend (looking for negative SOI numbers, indicative of the Active Phase of the MJO or El Nino): The near term trend based on the daily average was indicative of a building El Nino base state. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steadily building El Nino base state.
SOI Trend - Darwin (looking for high pressure here): A solid high pressure pattern was in the area and is to give way to a weaker pattern by Mon (10/5), but not outright low pressure pressure, with a new high pressure system building over Southeast Aust on Tues (10/6) holding.
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): A weak pressure pattern was in effect south of Tahiti on Thurs (10/1) but a higher pressure pattern is to develop by Sun (10/4) with no sign of abating.
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a trend of falling SOI values through Sunday (10/4), then rising.
SOI Analysis: During El Nino, the SOI functions as a measure of how well the ocean and atmosphere are co.cgied. Current numbers suggest good but not great co.cgiing, but getting better footing slowly but steadily (notice the 90 day average trend). This pattern is to only change for the better as the El Nino base state builds as we move into Fall. A consistent 90 day average of -18 is our target, indicative of a strong El Nino.
Southern Hemi Booster Index (SHBI) Analysis (which is theorized to supercharge a developing El Nino): Per the past 5 day 850 mbs anomaly charts, the south flow broke up on 9/29. Per the GFS model a southerly flow is now in effect and is to hold into Mon (10/5), take a break for a few days, then return on Thurs (10/8). It is high pressure over Southeast Australia that sets up the southerly surface flow. South and southeast wind anomalies have been in this region off and on for weeks now (previous run 7/29-8/10, this run 8/13-8/18), then returning consistently 9/18 and in.cgiay up to today. The SHBI appears to only be slightly influencing El Nino development, but we have no hard numbers to confirm.
ESPI (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed cloud cover): (9/29) Today's value fell to 2.02, down from 2.22 on 9/28, down from +2.30 on 9/26, up from +1.87 on 9/18 and up since 9/5 (+2.07). The ESPI was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling, to +2.42 on 8/18 and bottoming out at +1.78 on 8/26. It started rebuilding on 8/29 at +1.89 holding at +1.87 on 9/18 and up to +2.2 on 9/24 reaching +2.3 on 9/26. Historically the peak of the '82 El Nino was +2.2 and the '97 event +2.85. This suggests the '15 El Nino is reasonably well co.cgied with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Aug) The current ranking is up hard at +2.37 or up 0.39 standard deviations (65). The July MEI was 1.97 SD (65). At this same time in '97 the ranking was 3.00 SD (66) and in '82 it was 1.85 SD (62). So we're between the '82 and '97 events but close to '97, in strong El Nino territory presumably moving towards the Super El Nino range. The top 5 events since 1950 in order are: '97, '82, '91, '86, and '72 with '97 and '82 classified as 'Super El Nino's' because they reached 3 standard deviations (SD) above normal. '91 and '86 were at about 2.2 and 2.1 respectively with '72 peaking at 1.8 SD's above the norm. We've already beat all those. Suffice it to say we are somewhere between '82 and '97 in term of of atmospheric co.cgiing per this index. Most impressive.
North Pacific Jetstream (10/1) Detailed analysis is in the NPac Short Term Forecast above. In short, the jet has started the Fall transition perhaps influenced by El Nino, but nothing remarkable. But comes next Tues (9/6) a far more El Nino like pattern is projected. So far the jet has not at all looked like it is influenced by El Nino. This is disappointing considering this is the ultimate determiner of how well El Nino is connected to the atmosphere in terms of influencing winter storm production. We suspect it is just a matter of time before it wakes up and responds. This goes with the theme that this years El Nino is a late starter.
Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 the Active Phase of the MJO and successive Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific and primed the atmosphere out of a 15 year La Nina biased pattern that had been in.cgiay since the demise of the '97-98 Super El Nino. It is assumed some greater force was dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern, (the PDO). This warming and teleconnection continued building in 2015 with two Kelvin Waves arriving in Ecuador warming surface waters well into El Nino territory and a third, the strongest so far, starting to erupt in the Galapagos region. At this time we believe the classic El Nino feedback/teleconnection loop is in effect, with the atmosphere and the ocean well co.cgied.
The 2015 El Nino pattern continues to build in fits and starts, but is hampered by 'The Pause' that occurred in August and continues in Nino1.2 today (9/10). In spite of that, El Nino continues to move forward. Temps in the Nino 3.4 region today are solid and expected to only build as the leading edge of massive Kelvin Wave starts erupt over the Galapagos. Still the focus of that eruption right now is west of the Galapagos. The big question remains concerning how strong will this El Nino become. In the end, strength is a function of the temperatures in the Nino3.4 region. The warmer the core temps and the larger their areal coverage, the more influence on the jetstream. Obtaining high Nino3.4 temps is a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. And the frequency of those events is dictated by the 'character' of the El Nino. The '97 event was a bulldozer, developing out of a previous cold La Nina water state, and never looked back. Contrasting that was the '82-83 event, which didn't even start presenting until the Fall. The 2015 event presented originally with a false start in 2014 (and for that matter another false start in 2012), and has taken it's sweet time getting organized since then, in fit's and starts. We suspect it is struggling against an atmospheric biased towards La Nina forced by a 15 year run of the cool phase of the PDO. But we believe the atmosphere is now transitioning to the warm phase of the PDO, but is still fighting some previous momentum from the cool phase, hence elongating this El Nino's lifecycle. Regardless, a large and strong Kelvin Wave, the largest of this event is starting to erupt now. It will take at least 3 months for the tail end to erupt over the Galapagos and advect through the Nino 3.4 region. So assuming peak heating in Nino1.2 occurs on 10/4, it will be 11/4 till that peak warmth reaches Nino3.4. And that might even be optimistic.
Comparing the 2015 El Nino to '82 and '97
(Click to enlarge)
The longer El Nino threshold temperatures persist, the thought is the
longer it will take proportionally to dissipate. That is, the sooner
warm water temps develop, the sooner they will have an effect on the
atmosphere and the more momentum El Nino will have on the atmosphere,
and will therefore take longer to dislodge. The atmosphere responds
very slowly to change. but once changed, it doesn't turn back to it's
previous configuration quick either. An official El Nino was declared
in late 2014 and has only gotten stronger since then. If westerly
anomalies continue as predicted by
the CFS model, and another Kelvin Wave results (starting say 11/1), it
arrive in Ecuador till ~Feb 1, 2016, and not disburse till a month
later (March) that would mean a total duration of El Nino temps in the
Nino3.4 region of 17 months. That said, the character of this event is not at all like '97 (which was brisk paced and steady), but not at all like '82 either (which developed even later and faster). This one is a slow moving train wreck. That would not be a bad thing, in that it could slow the inevitable transition to La Nina until later in the winter of 2016-2107.
So where does it go from here? Having a MEI (July & Aug) that is equivalent to two other El Nino that eventually turned into Super El Ninos is no guarantee that this years event will eventually evolve into a Super El Nino. We still have 0.63 SDs to go. But given the current warming in the west quadrant of Nino1.2 now, that seems like a pretty easily obtainable goal. And looking at the record back to 1950 for other events that have similar values in July & Aug, the odds favor that outcome. With an evolving El Nino base state in control and building, it seem more warm water transport east is inevitable. And we haven't even hit the Fall season switchover, which tends to supercharge westerly anomalies during El Nino years. The future concerning more and stronger WWBs is unknown, but we are betting on the CFSv2 being largely on the right track with the El Nino base state slowly having greater influence over time and being enhanced by Rossby Waves at times.
So for now we're tracking towards an El Nino that will end up somewhere between the 82' and '97 event, with very good atmospheric momentum in.cgiay. We'll continue monitoring the North Pacific jetstream and will be looking for tropical activity in the West Pacific to recurve northeast moving towards the Gulf of Alaska, and for swell to result from such systems in Sept. To us, those are the sure signs of deep changes in the atmosphere influenced by El Nino. Typhoon Atsani did not live up to the hype. And Kilo is not going to do it either. And the jetstream charts are not impressive. All data to date regarding the character of this years event, depict it as a slow mover. As such, any direct influence from El Nino will probably occur alter in the Fall rather than earlier. Regardless, continue your training routine.Once the storm cycle starts, we expect it to only build in momentum, consistency, and intensity, peaking in the Feb timeframe.
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
Add a STORMSURF Buoy Forecast to your Google Homepage. Click Here:
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 (9/27): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnjN2quCAVM&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. - - -
- - -
||Casa Noble Tequila If you are looking for an exquisite experience in fine tequila tasting, one we highly recommend, try Case Noble. Consistently rated the best tequila when compared to any other. Available at BevMo (in California). Read more here: http://www.casanoble.com/
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 si.cgie and free. If you have Google set as your default Internet E.cgiorer 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