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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Monday, December 10, 2018 3:52 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
4.4 - California & 3.3 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)

Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    

Issued for Week of Monday 12/10 thru Sun 12/16

Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Gulf Swell Hitting CA
Kamchatka Swell Pushing to HI - NPac to Light Up

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Monday, December 10, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point seas were 3.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.2 ft @ 13.2 secs from 321 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 10.4 ft @ 12.5 secs with swell 6.1 ft @ 12.6 secs from 333 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.4 ft @ 12.0 secs with swell 2.6 ft @ 12.0 secs from 236 degrees. Wind at the buoy was north-northeast at 9-12 kts. Water temperature 62.2 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.2 ft @ 11.8 secs from 268 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.0 ft @ 12.2 secs from 257 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 0.9 ft @ 10.5 secs from 246 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.4 ft @ 12.3 secs from 269 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 12.1 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 8.5 ft @ 15.7 secs from 293 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northwest at 12-16 kts. Water temp 58.3 degs (042).

See Hi-Res Buoy Dashboards (bottom of the page)

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.

Surf Heights for Hawaii should be consider 'Hawaiian Scale' if period exceeds 14 secs.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Monday (12/10) in North and Central CA a gale previously in the Gulf has produced swell now hitting with waves 14-15 ft with glassy conditions and decent form. Protected breaks were 2-3 ft overhead and clean and closed out steady offshore winds. At Santa Cruz surf was 2 ft overhead on the bigger sets and lined up and clean and peeling nicely. In Southern California/Ventura surf was knee to thigh high and lined up and clean with no wind. In North Orange Co surf was waist high on the sets and clean and lined up mostly breaking off the beach. South Orange Country's best breaks were up to waist high and clean. In North San Diego surf was thigh high or so and clean and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was getting raw lumpy Gulf sideband swell with waves 2-3 ft overhead with light northeast winds and a little lump in the water and not real well organized. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northeast windswell at head high to 1 ft overhead and chopped from moderate easterly trades.

See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.

Meteorological Overview
On Monday (12/10) swell was fading in Hawaii and just arriving in California from a modest gale that developed in the Western Gulf Fri (12/7) with 35 seas falling southeast then fading in the Central Gulf on Sat (12/8) with seas dropping from 26 ft aimed southeast. Looking at the models another storm developed off the Northern Kuril's on Sat (12/8) with seas to 44 ft aimed east, then faded while tracking over the North Dateline region, and is forecast to redevelop in the Northwestern Gulf on Mon (12/10) with seas to 32 ft and continue east Tues (12/11) with seas fading from 32 targeting mainly Canada. Another small gale to develop right behind in the Gulf on Wed (12/12) with up to 47 ft seas aimed east, then fading while impacting Canada 24 hours later. And a strong storm is forecast developing while moving from the Western Gulf to for the Central Gulf on Fri-Sat (12/15) with up to 57 ft seas aimed east. And maybe another small one is to follow that. A warming equatorial Pacific continues to apparently feeding the storm track. The key is to monitor whether the storm track holds over the next 2 weeks while the Inactive Phase of the MJO moves through the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA), or whether it fades out. If it holds decently, that will be an indicator that perhaps those warming waters are starting to coupling with the atmosphere, and helping to set up a longer term pattern favorable for storm development.

See all the details below...

 

SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Monday AM (12/10) the jet was consolidated with winds 170 kts pushing off Japan tracking east-northeast and holding together the whole way into the Northern Gulf of Alaska with winds still 160 kts there then falling into a pinched fading trough that was impacting the Pacific Northwest coast. There were no obvious troughs and no obvious support for gale development , but the jet certainly seems primed for it. Over the next 72 hours winds to build to 180 kts in the Eastern Gulf with a trough developing there on Tues (12/11) offering a short window for gale development there. On Wed PM (12/12) another stronger trough is to be developing in the Western Gulf being fed by 180 kts winds supporting gale development and tracking east and impacting the Pacific Northwest on Fri (12/14). Beyond 72 hours starting Fri (12/14) more wind energy is to be building on the dateline at 180 kts with yet another trough developing in the Western Gulf and that trough digging deep into Saturday (12/15) over the Central Gulf still being fed by 180 kts winds offering great support for gale if not storm development. That trough is to push east impacting the US West Coast late Sun (12/16). After that the jet is to still be consolidated pushing east on the 35N latitude line reaching the whole way into Northern CA/Oregon with a new trough theoretically starting to develop north of Hawaii late Mon (12/17). A very prolific pattern is suggested offering great support for gale development. In short, a progressive gale pattern is forecast centered over the Gulf of Alaska, even though the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be in control. This is good news if it materializes.

Surface Analysis
On Monday (12/10) swell from a gale that developed in the Western Gulf of Alaska was fading in Hawaii and just hitting California (see Gulf Gale below). Also a gale developed of Kamchatka tracking east (see North Pac Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another gale is to start developing in the Northwestern Gulf Tues PM (12/11) with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building from 30 ft over a small area at 4N 167.5W. On Wed AM (12/12) the gale is to build while lifting northeast with northwest winds building to 50-55 kts and seas 33 ft over a small area at 50N 150W aimed east (310 degs NCal). In the evening 50-55 kt northwest winds are forecast in the extreme Northeastern Gulf with seas 47 ft at 53N 140W aimed east (well east of the CA swell window). On Thurs AM (12/13) the storm is to be impacting the Central Canadian coast with 46 ft seas hitting there. North angled swell expected for North and Central CA.

 

Gulf Gale
A new fetch of northwest winds started building over the North Dateline into the Western Gulf on Thurs PM (12/6) with northwest winds 45 kts solid over a decent sized area aimed east-southeast with seas building from 30 ft over a small area at 49N 175.5W aimed southeast. Fri AM (12/7) northwest winds were 45-50 kts over a moderate sized area aimed southeast falling southeast in the Western Gulf with seas building to 35 ft @ 44N 166.5W. In the evening fetch fell southeast fast at 35 kts with 30 ft seas at 45N 159W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (11/8) fetch was over the Southern Gulf aimed more east and fading from 30 kts with seas 27 ft at 40N 152W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to be lifting north positioned 450 nmiles off Vancouver Island with northwest winds 30-35 kts and seas 25 ft at 38N 150W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 21 ft at 37N 145W aimed southeast targeting California swell. Another bout of larger rawer swell is possible for California and smaller less direct energy from Hawaii.

Hawaii: Swell fading Mon (12/10) fading from 5.6 ft @ 13-14 secs (7.5 ft). Residuals on Tues AM (12/11) from 3.4 ft @ 12 secs (4.0 ft). Swell Direction: 341-350 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Mon (12/10) pushing 8.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (14.5 ft) early morning, holding through the day. Swell fading Tues (12/11) fading from 7.6 ft @ 14 secs (10.5 ft). Residuals on Wed AM (12/12) from 4.5 ft @ 12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 286-298 with most energy from 295 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival starting before sunrise Tues (12/11) pushing 4.3 ft @ 16 secs (6.5 ft) at sunrise, holding through the day. Swell fading Wed (12/12) fading from 3.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.5 ft). Residuals on Thurs AM (12/13) from 2.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 291-303 with most energy from 299 degrees

 

North Pac Gale
Another gale started developing Fri PM (12/7) just off the Northern Kuril's producing a modest sized area of 45-50 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building. On Sat AM (12/8) 55 kt west winds were pushing off the North Kuril's with seas 42 ft at 48N 160E. In the evening the storm faded while tracking east off Kamchatka with winds 45 kts from the west and seas fading from 40 ft at 49N 167E. The gale faded from there Sun AM (12/9) with winds dropping from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 31 ft at 49N 176E. Remnants of this system reorganized some while pushing east over the dateline into the Northwestern Gulf Sun PM with winds 35 kts from the west and seas 29 ft over a broadish area straddling the dateline at 48N 179W aimed east. On Mon AM (12/10) the gale was trying to become more cohesive with west winds 35 kts in the Western Gulf with seas building from 29 ft at 48N 173W. In the evening west winds to push east while building to 40 kts from the west in the Gulf with seas building to 31 ft at 46.5N 165.5W aimed east at the Pacific Northwest. The gale is to build Tues AM (12/11) in the Northeastern Gulf with northwest winds 35-40 kts with seas 32 ft at 47.5N 153W aimed east. The gale is to fade while pushing east from there over the Eastern Gulf with west winds 30 kts and seas fading from 29 ft up at 50N 143W and north of the North CA swell window targeting only Canada. Swell possible for the Pacific Northwest down to Pt Conception. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect the Kamchatka component of this swell to arrive late Tues (12/11) with swell to 2.6 ft @ 20 secs (5.0 ft). Swell building overnight pushing 5.2 ft @ 16 secs mid-AM Wed (12/12) (8.0 ft) and holding through the day. Swell fading Thurs AM (12/13) from 4.3 ft @ 14 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees

North CA: Possible swell arrival on Thurs (12/13).

 

  North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height

 

Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Monday AM (12/10) a mostly dry front was pushing down the North CA coast with light offshores south of it even up at San Francisco. Northwest winds behind it were 15 kts in the Pt Arena area. By mid-afternoon north winds are to be 15-20 kts for all of North and Central CA. Maybe a touch of rain for North CA early then vaporizing over the Golden Gate mid-day. No snow forecast. Tues (12/11) high pressure to remain in control with north winds at 15-20 kts all day for North and Central CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino at sunset. Wednesday (12/12) the high is to be pushing into North CA with north winds 15-20 kts again for all of North and Central CA. Light rain early for Cape Mendocino, then clearing. Thurs (12/13) light winds to be in control for the entire state. Fri (12/14) a moderate local low is to be to develop off and over North CA early with south winds 20 kts for Cape Mendocino but light winds early south of there building to southwest 15 kts for San francisco late AM and then calm as the front dissolves mid-day. Rain pushing south to Monterey Bay late afternoon then dissolving. Light snow for Tahoe. Saturday south winds 15 kts early for Cape Mendocino building to 30+ kts and 15 kts down to Pt Reyes later. Rain for North CA to the Golden Gate later in the evening. Sunday (12/16) the front is to be pushing south to Monterey bay with south winds 25 kts there mid AM and stalling but with south winds 15 kts to Pt Conception. Rain for all of North and Central CA through the day. Snow developing for the Sierra holding overnight. Monday (12/17) another front builds off the coast with south winds limited to Bodega bay northward, but up to 30 kts for Cape Mendocino. Snow fading out early for Tahoe and not rebuilding. Total snow accumulation for for the week for North Lake Tahoe 12-13 inches and 8 inches for Mammoth.

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis  
No swell of interest was in the water.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.

 

South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height

 

QuikCAST's

 

LONG-TERM FORECAST
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a local gale is forecast developing Thurs AM (12/13) 1600 nmiles west of Cape Mendocino CA with 45 kt northwest winds and seas building. In the evening northwest winds to be 45-50 kts off Cape Mendocino aimed southeast with seas building from 25 ft at 39N 140W aimed southeast. On Fri AM (12/14) the gael is to be disintegrating just off Cape Mendocino with 27 ft seas at 38N 132W aimed east. This system is to be inland in the evening with seas from previous fetch fading from 20-22 ft impacting North CA. Something to monitor.

Yet another gale is to be building just west of the dateline Thurs AM (12/13) with a small area of 45 kt west winds positioned decently to the south and tracking east with seas building from 38 ft over a small area at 41N 163E aimed east. In the evening 45 kt west winds are to be losing coverage and seas fading from 35 ft at 41N 172E aimed east. The gale is to track east fast and building in the Western Gulf on Fri AM (12/14) with a broad area of 45 kt west winds and seas 33 ft at 41.5N 170W aimed east. In the evening northwest winds to build to 55 kts in the Central Gulf with 45 ft seas at 42.5N 160W. The storm is to be pushing east Sat AM (12/15) with 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas 55 ft at 42N 152.5W aimed east. In the evening winds are to be fading and lifting northeast at 50 kts still over a solid area with 347 ft seas at 40N 144W and up to 51 ft seas up at 45.5N 146W. ft seas at 50N 146W aimed east. The gale is to be fading Sun AM (12/16) in the Northern Gulf with winds dropping from 35-40 kts and seas fading from 43 ft at 45.5N 137.5W. Something to monitor.

And yet another storm is to be building on the dateline Sat PM (12/16) with 45-50 kt west winds and seas building from 30 ft over a tiny area at 40N 178E aimed east. On Sun AM (12/16) 50-55 kt northwest winds are forecast pushing east with 39 ft seas at 41N 173W aimed east. The storm is to track east in the evening with 50 kt west winds and seas to 41 ft at 41.5N 162W aimed east. On Mon AM (12/17) the storm is to be in the Central Gulf with 50-55 kt northwest winds and seas 41 ft at 42.5N 150.5 W aimed east. In the evening the storm is to be lifting northeast with 55 kt northwest winds and seas 50 ft at 45N 142W aimed east.

Quite a series of storms are forecast if one is to believe the models.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing weather systems of interest are forecast.

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Atmosphere Continues ENSO Neutral - SSTs Backing Off

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 equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing 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, 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 in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.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).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough yet to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere.

LONG-RANGE PACIFIC STORM AND SWELL GENERATION POTENTIAL FORECAST
Fall/Winter 2018 = 6.0 (California & Hawaii)
Rating based on a 1-10 scale: 1 being the lowest (small and infrequent surf conditions), 5 being normal/average, and 10 being extraordinary (frequent events of large, long period swells)

Rationale: Assuming the PDO has moved to the warm phase and that El Nino does not develop as strong as previously forecast, and assuming and an ocean-atmospheric coupling becomes weakly established in the January timeframe and ocean temperature anomalies in Nino3.4 build to the +0.6 deg range, there is good probability for slightly enhanced storm production in the North Pacific starting in the late Nov timeframe (specifically the Gulf of Alaska and Dateline regions) with slightly increased intensity in number of storm days and storm intensity, resulting in slightly increased odds for larger than normal swell, with increased duration and higher than normal period. This should be significantly better than the past 2 winter seasons.

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (12/9) 5 day average winds were moderately from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then fading and mixed both east and west over the KWGA. Anomalies were light east over the East equatorial Pacific turning solidly westerly from 150W to the dateline, then neutral over the bulk of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/10) modest east anomalies were in the core of the KWGA with a small area of west anomalies on the dateline and strong east anomalies building east of there. The forecast is for this situation to generally hold, with light east anomalies fading out at the end of the week in the Western KWGA and the west anomalies on the dateline dissipating on 12/14, and strong east anomalies building on the dateline 12/12 through the end of the model run on 12/17. There's no obvious support for storm development with what appears to be an Inactive MJO setting up.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/9) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the KWGA. The statistical model indicates the Inactive Phase is to ease east and over the dateline at day 5 and out of the KWGA at day 15 with the Active Phase of the MJO moving in to the far West Pacific. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Inactive Phase not moving quite as fast to the east and still partially lingering over the dateline at day 15. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/10) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the Indian Ocean. It is to track east steadily at moderate strength and is to be over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out while fading some there. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/10) This model depicts a modest Inactive signal over the far West Pacific tracking east with the Active Phase over the dateline tracking east and into Central America 12/30. The Inactive Phase is to push east behind it moving over the East Pacific and into Central America on 1/14. A very weak Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 1/9 tracking east and disintegrating with literally no MJO signal at the end of the model run on 1/19/19.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/8) This model depicts moderate to strong west anomalies were over the dateline and are forecast holding into 12/14, with weak east anomalies in the Western KWGA from 165E and points west of there. East anomalies are to peak at modest strength in the Western KWGA 12/20 while weak west anomalies hold on the dateline, with east anomalies fading out 12/25 and weak west anomalies taking over the core of the KWGA and holding through the end of the model run on 1/5.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/10) This model depicts weak west anomalies were over a small area on the dateline with neutral anomalies in the western KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was building in the KWGA and expected to hold through 12/23 with just patches of weak west anomalies forecast in the KWGA. After that a stronger Active MJO pattern is to develop 12/24 through 2/6 with west anomalies building in coverage filling the KWGA and possibly building to WWB status 1/9-2/25 even as the MJO turns Inactive on 2/6 holding through the end of the model run on 3/9 with west anomalies holding in the KWGA. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east over California and forecast holding through the end of the model run. A 4th contour line previously forecast to to develop in the 12/22-1/21/19 period has disappeared. Conversely the third contour line is now again to fade from 12/23-1/29 then reappear thereafter. It appears El Nino development is a bit less of a certainty per this model. But a solid tendency towards El Nino is fairly certain. The atmosphere and ocean are trying to become coupled towards an El Nino bias in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence of it yet. If it hasn't happened yet (by Dec 15), it's doubtful there will be significant weather influence, even if it does develop during this winter cycle. And this model is not suggesting they will become coupled, with the MJO cycle active, and not muted as it would be during a strong El Nino. Still this pattern is to slowly become more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere is still turning from a La Nina pattern (that has been entrenched for the past 2 years) at a minimum towards a neutral one. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, or perhaps slightly enhanced, but nothing more.

CFSv2 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds, MJO, Rossby etc - Alternate link

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/10) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and building coverage (after previously falling west reaching east to only 172E on 12/5) now to 175W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W a few weeks back, then moved east again and stable today at 152W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then getting shallower east of there but pushing into Ecuador. 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific with temps starting to rebuild in the West Pacific at +4 degs at 175W (Possible Kelvin Wave #3). Temps faded to +3 degs east of there only to rebuild to +4 degs (Kelvin Wave #2) starting at 130W and peaking at 100W down 50 meters then pushing into the coast of Ecuador. It appears Kelvin Wave #2 is fading out in the East Pacific while Kevin Wave #3 is building under the dateline. The peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred, but upwelling from it is still to be ongoing for a few more months now that Kelvin Wave #3 is developing. Kelvin Wave #3 is not expected to reach Ecuador for 3+ months, or mid- March and then not erupting and retrograding west on the surface reaching the Nino3.4 region at least another month later, meaning there's still a good amount of surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy through the entirety of the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/4 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 in the East Pacific from 130W pushing into Ecuador with temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 100W. Modest warming was also building at +3 degs under the dateline (Kelvin Wave #3). Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 90W to 155W solidly with secondary warm anomalies west from there to 165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/4) Positive anomalies were solid from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east (+5-10 cms), extending east over the area north of New Guinea at +5 cms with a new core to +10 cms centered at 170E. East of there continuous +5 cms anomalies were in place over the equator the whole way into the East Pacific and Ecuador. Kelvin Wave (#2) was steady from 150W to Ecuador and branching north to Baja and south to Southern Peru along the coasts there, a good sign.

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. All data is from blended infrared and microwave sensors.
Satellite Imagery
Hi-res Nino1.2 & 3.4: (12/9) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were warm in a Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, with one imbedded pocket of stronger warming centered at 110W. But these temps were cooler than day past and appear to be steadily loosing their core warmth. There is a steady stream of moderate warming along the coast the immediate coasts of Chile and Peru and Ecuador and a bit weaker reaching north to Central America, but nothing indicative of a strong trend towards El Nino, and more just like a modest El Nino. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. But a pocket of cool waters was solid and steady elongated east to west off Peru to 130W. Overall the pattern looks weakly like El Nino, but also like La Nina (given the cool pockets off Peru) with no solid warming branching north and south along the Central and South American coast, suggesting this developing El Nino is only weakly in control and still fragile at best in the East Equatorial Pacific as it has been for weeks.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/9): A modest stream of cooling waters was indicated on the equator from the Galapagos to 140W. But a broad area of warming was building along the coast of Chile and Peru extending well out to sea, presumably due to fading trades there, not related to Kevin Wave impaction in Ecuador. Overall a steady pattern is indicated.
Hi-res Overview: (12/9) Weak warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. Otherwise moderate warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos building out to the dateline. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime now. And one could kinda think we are moving towards a El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion because the warm signal on the surface should be much stronger at this time of the year if El Nino were truly developing. We are in ENSO neutral biased warm and likely only going to move to a minimal warm regime, likely not reaching full El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/10) Today's temps were rebuilding at +0.957 after falling to +0.212 on 12/3, after they built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region. A warming trend is steadily building.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/10) Today temps were falling some at +0.778 after rising to +1.050 degs on 12/6 and previously in the +0.5-+0.6 range since 11/12. The all time high for this event was +1.45 on 11/5, beating the previous peak temps of +0.795 on 10/9, and +0.649 on 9/27, and that beating the previous peak at +0.490 on 7/2. Overall temps are noodling around at +0.5 to +0.9 degs above normal adding suggesting some sort of minimally weak El Nino is trying to develop, but nothing serious.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/9) The model indicates temps were at +0.9 degs in mid-Nov (which isn't even close to reality - they were about +0.5) then rising some to +1.05 on Dec 1 (in reality +0.6 degs) and then forecast building to +1.25 by Feb 1 nd to +1.5 degs in early April 2019, falling to +1.05 degs into July 2019 and steady from there into Aug. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19. But given all the data we've seen, we believe odds of weak El Nino are more likely. Most models are suggesting a turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall. It's not certain we're there yet.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +1.00 degs in November and +1.0-+1.1 degs through Feb 2019, then slowly fading to 0.71 in July. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (12/10): The daily index was falling some at +0.93. The 30 day average was falling some at +2.13 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was rising some at 0.39, rising the past 3 weeks and no longer negative and the highest its been in months. The 90 degree average turned negative for the first time in a year on 6/30 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was building in the atmosphere. Unfortunately we have made no progress from there towards a negative El Nino pattern and if anything, have moved back to a positive regime.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (12/10) The index has risen slightly from at +0.03 on 12/3 to +0.24 today, just barely positive and not as strong as it should be if El Nino were developing. Typically El Nino peaks in late December. If that is the case in this years event, then there's no way we're going to move into a legit El Nino this winter. It was down to -0.22 the week of 10/22, after having risen to +0.39 on 10/10, the highest so far this event. This suggests that precip and evaporation are normal, and not above normal as one would expect if El Nino were in play. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: The PDO is weakly positive, even though La Nina is in play.
Per NOAAs index recent values: June 2017 +0.21, July -0.50, Aug -0.62, Sept -0.25, Oct -0.61, Nov -0.45, Dec -0.13, Jan 2018 +0.29, Feb -0.19, Mar -0.61, April -0.89, May -0.69, June -0.85, July -0.09, Aug -0.42, Sept -0.42. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 

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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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Local Interest

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Powerline Productions New Movie Preimer - Next Level - Friday (11/9) at 7 PM. Details here: http://www.stormsurf.com/page2/forecast/forecast/NextLevel.html

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http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/surfs-up-for-mavericks-invitational-in-calif/

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