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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Friday, December 21, 2018 4:34 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
3.1 - California & 3.5 - 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 12/24 thru Sun 12/30

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   

Swell #4 Fading in CA
Weaker Gale Pattern Forceast Focused on Dateline

Merry Christmas!
Thanks to everyone for using and supporting Stormsurf over the past year. Please have a safe and happy holiday. Forecast will be updated sporadically through New Years as we take a little time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. We hope you have the opportunity to do the same.

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Friday, December 21, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point seas were 4.0 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 3.2 ft @ 10.6 secs from 309 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 6.8 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 5.1 ft @ 10.5 secs from 346 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 4.4 ft @ 14.7 secs with swell 3.3 ft @ 14.9 secs from 235 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southwest at 8-12 kts. Water temperature 62.2 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 4.2 ft @ 12.7 secs from 270 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 2.5 ft @ 16.0 secs from 270 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.8 ft @ 16.2 secs from 254 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.9 ft @ 17.8 secs from 277 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 8.4 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 6.2 ft @ 13.4 secs from 296 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was northeast at 4-12 kts. Water temp 59.2 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 Friday (12/21) in North and Central CA swell from Storm #4 was fading but still pretty solid with waves 9-11 ft on the face and clean and lined up but a bit raw and unorganized with building southeast winds. Protected breaks were head high to 1-2 ft overhead and clean and lined up. At Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and clean but slow and swamped by tide early. In Southern California/Ventura surf was chest to maybe head high and lined up and clean with light offshore's but looking a little on the weak side. In North Orange Co surf was chest high and somewhat lined up and clean but a bit overcome by tide. South Orange Country's best breaks were waist to maybe chest high and clean and lined up but weak. In North San Diego surf was shoulder high on the sets and clean and lined up but weak and tentative. Hawaii's North Shore was getting leftovers from Swell #4 with waves 1-2 ft overhead at top breaks on the sets and clean and lined up. The South Shore was flat to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around northwest swell with waves chest high and pretty ragged from moderate east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Friday (12/21) swell from Storm #4 was fading in California but still producing solid waves in the North end of the state. Behind that a small gale developed in the Northern Gulf on Thurs-Fri (12.21) with up to 37 ft seas aimed east, with remnants from it forecast to redevelop just off the coast of Oregon on Sat (12/22) producing 30 ft seas aimed east. Another small system is forecast developing near the dateline on Sun-Mon (12/24) with 28 ft seas aimed east, then dissipating. And another is to be right behind in the same area Tues-Wed (12/26) with up to 37 ft seas aimed east and dissipating in the Western Gulf. But no solid storms are forecast. So the storm track appears to be getting ready to take a break. It's been a good run of large surf. Now back to a more normal sized surf pattern.

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 Friday AM (12/18) the jet was consolidated pushing east off Japan down on the 35N latitude line with winds 130 kts building to 160 kts on the dateline and continuing to push east while weakening over the Gulf of Alaska and pushing into the Oregon-Ca border with winds down to 90 kts. There was the beginnings of a weak broad trough on the dateline, but nothing clearly indicative of overtly supporting gale development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with no split in the jet and it tracking due east down at 35N pushing into North CA with winds building over Japan to 170 kts on Mon (12/24) feeding a developing trough again over the dateline offering decent support for gale development. Beyond 72 hours the dateline trough is to push into the Gulf on Tues (12/25) and dissipate. Note: A steep trough is to develop over the Sierra Monday night (12/24) possibly supporting weather development there. Regardless, by Tues (12/25) another trough is to be building on the dateline being fed by 140 kts winds streaming off Japan with that trough building into late Wed (12/26) offering support for gale development there. At the same time the jet is to splitting some north of Hawaii with the northern branch ridging north up into the Northern Gulf offering nothing there. But winds are to be building over Japan to 190 kts by Thurs (12/27) while the dateline trough pinches off offering nothing. But the wind energy over Japan is to be building into Fri (12/28) to 210 kts with a broad trough building north of it reaching almost to the dateline at 180 hours out. Something to monitor but the suspicion is the jet might start pulsing again.

Surface Analysis
On Friday (12/21) residual swell from the second of a pair of strong storms that previously pushed over the dateline was fading in California and fading more in Hawaii (see Storm #4 below). Also swell from a gale that developed in the Northern Gulf was pushing towards the US West Coast (see North Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours remnants of the North Gulf Gale are to redevelop briefly off the Oregon Coast on Sat (12/22) with west winds 40+ kts and seas building at 18Z to 31 ft at 44.5N 137.5W aimed east. Assuming this occurs, additional swell energy is to be pushing southeast targeting Oregon and the North CA coast from 303 degrees relative to North CA.

On Sat PM (12/22) and ill formed gale is try and start developing just west of the dateline producing 35-40 kt northwest winds targeting Hawaii decently with seas building from 26 ft at 41N 168E. On Sun AM (12/23) northwest winds to move over the dateline at 35-45 kts with seas building to 30 ft at 37.5N 173.5E targeting Hawaii well. In the evening the fetch is to lift north and reorganize with west winds 45 kts over a tiny area with seas from the original fetch fading from 24 ft at 35N 175W aimed southeast. On Mon AM (12/24) 35-40 kt northwest winds to continue just east of the dateline with 30 ft seas at 43N 170W targeting Hawaii and the US West Coast. In the evening winds to push east at 35 kts with seas 29 ft at 41N 166.5W aimed east. On Tues AM (12/25) winds to hold at 35-40 kts lifting northeast with seas building to 30 ft at 43N 160W. West winds to be fading in the evening at 35 kts with seas fading from 26 ft at 44N 153W. Possible swell to result pushing east.

 

Storm #4
Another strong storm started building west of the dateline Sat AM (12/16) with 45-50 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas building from 28 ft at 40N 166E aimed east. In the evening the storm was approaching the dateline with 50 kt west winds and seas building from 40 ft at 42N 174E aimed east. On Sun AM (12/16) 50 kt west-northwest winds were pushing east with 43 ft seas at 42N 178.5W aimed east. The storm tracked east in the evening and moderating with 45 kt west winds and seas 44 ft at 42N 170W aimed east. On Mon AM (12/17) the storm is to be down to gale status in the Western Gulf and fading with 40 kt west winds and seas fading from 41 ft at 41.5N 162.5W aimed east. In the evening the gale was fading with 35 kt west winds a bit off North CA and seas fading from 36 ft at 40.5N 154.5W aimed east. The gale was fading out Tues AM (12/18) with 35 kts west winds off Oregon and seas fading from 28 ft at 40N 146W aimed east mainly from previous fetch. Another bout of larger swell is possible.

Hawaii: Dribbles fading on Fri AM (12/21) at 4.8 ft @ 11 secs (5 ft). Swell DIrection: 325 degrees moving to 350 degrees

North CA: Residuals on Fri AM (12/21) holding at 7.0 ft @ 13 secs (9.0 ft). Swell fading on Sat AM (12/22) from 4.8 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.5-6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 289-295 degrees

Southern CA: Swell fading some on Fri (12/21) at 3.9 ft @ 16 secs all day (6.0 ft). Residuals on Sat (12/22) fading from 2.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 293-300 degrees

 

North Gulf Gale
A new small storm developed in the Northwestern Gulf on Wed PM (12/19) with northwest winds building to 45 kts over a small area aimed southeast with seas building. On Thurs AM (12/20) the gale built while tracking east-southeast producing a small area of 45-50 kt northwest winds and seas 35 ft over a small area up at 48N 164.5W aimed southeast. In the evening west winds were 45 kts targeting the US West Coast well with seas 38 ft at 48N 157.5W (357 degs HI, 305 degs NCal). The gale is to fade fast Fri AM (12/21) with west winds 35 kts targeting Vancouver Island with seas fading from 32 ft at 48.5N 150.5W aimed east. This system to dissipate from there. Possible swell targeting mainly North CA and points north of there though energy will reach south to Pt Conception.

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (12/23) before sunrise peaking near sunrise at 7.8 ft @ 16-17 secs (12 ft) and shadowed in the SF Bay Area. Swell Direction: 303 degrees

 

  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 Friday (12/21) north winds are forecast for Cape Mendocino early at 15 kts then building over all of North and Central CA to 15-20 kts at sunset. Light rain for Pt Arena to San Francisco early fading out by 10 AM. Light snow for Tahoe through 10 AM. Saturday (12/22) high pressure tries to build in but low pressure is to be off the Pacific Northwest holding it at bay with north winds 10-15 kts for all of North and Central CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino late afternoon into the evening. Sunday (12/23) high pressure is to be weakly ridging into the SF Bay Area with light winds there but a front pushing into Oregon and south into North CA with south winds 15-20 kts for Cape Mendocino and north winds 15-20 kts for Pt Conception. Light rain down to Pt Arena late afternoon reaching to the Golden Gate late evening then dissipating. Light snow for Tahoe. Monday (12/24) high pressure is to be building just off the coast with northwest winds 10-15 kts early building to 20 kts solid late. Light rain possible from Monterey Bay northward through the day. Possible short window of moderate snow for the Sierra overnight. Tuesday (12/25) north winds to continue at 30 kts for the North and Central coasts and 25 kts for South California continuing through the day. High pressure in control with no precip forecast. Wednesday (12/26) high pressure is to continue with north winds 15-20 kts for North and Central CA. More north winds expected on Thurs (12/27) building to 30 kts for all of North and Central CA and 25 kts on Fri (12/27).

Total snow accumulation for for the week for North Lake Tahoe 6 inches and 2-3 inches for Mammoth. It appears the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be moving over the East Pacific.

 

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 starting Mon AM (12/24) a new storm is to be building mid-way between Japan and the dateline with 55 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas building fast. In the evening the storm is to lifting east-northeast still with 55 kt west winds and seas building to 41 ft over a tiny area at 40N 165E aimed east. On Tues AM (12/25) northwest winds to be 50-55 kts targeting Hawaii well with seas building to 43 ft at 41N 170E. In the evening a solid area of northwest winds are forecast at 45+ kts nearly on the dateline with seas 46 ft at 40N 174.5E. The gale is to be fading fast on Wed AM (12/26) on the dateline with northwest winds 35-40 kts and seas 37 ft at 39N 179W aimed southeast targeting Hawaii well. Something to monitor.

A broad area of low pressure is to be building over and just east of Japan Thurs-Fri (12/28). No clear swell producing fetch is to develop immediately but given the jetstream configuration, it seems likely something will evolve.

 

South Pacific

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

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Atmosphere Continues ENSO Neutral - Sea Surface Warming Off Peru

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 (12/20) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then pushing over the whole of the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the far East equatorial Pacific turning moderately easterly near the dateline and continuing into the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/21) strong east anomalies were over the dateline and in the eastern KWGA with moderate west anomalies in the far west KWGA. The forecast is for east anomalies to hold for then next 3 days then pushing east and out of the KWGA at the end of the forecast (12/27) with building west anomalies starting to fill the KWGA. Support for storm development appears to be limited to the far West Pacific for the next 4-5 days with the Inactive MJO in control, but that is to be fading.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/20) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was over the dateline with the Active Phase over the Maritime Continent and starting to push into the far West Pacific. The statistical model indicates the Inactive Phase is to ease east and out of the dateline region at day 5 and then gone after that with the Active Phase moving fully into the KWGA at day 10 holding into day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing initially but with the Inactive Phase not moving as fast to the east and barely lingering just east of the dateline at day 15 while the Active Phase slowly builds in the far West Pacific. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/21) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderately strong over the Central Maritime Continent. It is to track east steadily at moderate strength reaching the West Pacific 2 weeks out. The GEFS model depicts the same thing but with the MJO very strong in the far West Pacific at 2 weeks out. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/21) This model depicts a modest Active Phase of the MJO in the far West Pacific moving east and reaching Central America on 1/5. An Inactive signal is to set up over the far West Pacific 1/5 tracking east and is to move over the East Pacific and into Central America on 1/30. A modest Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 1/25 tracking east over the dateline at the end of the model run on 1/30/19.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/21) This model depicts moderate west anomalies were over the western KWGA with solid east anomalies on the dateline and those east anomalies are to hold till 1/3. At the same time strong west anomalies are to set up in the far West Pacific 1/1 as the Active Phase of the MJO start building there. After that the Active Phase and solid west anomalies are to start pushing east moving to the heart of the KWGA 1/5-1/17 building to strong status as the Active Phase rebuilds through the end of the model run on 12/17.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/21) This model depicts east anomalies were over the dateline with modest west anomalies from 165E and points west of there filling 50% of the KWGA. The Inactive Phase of the MJO was fading fast in the eastern KWGA with a strong Active Phase of the MJO building in the far West KWGA. A strong Active MJO pattern is to develop 12/25 through 2/4 with west anomalies building in coverage filling the KWGA, possibly to o WWB status 1/5-1/15. A moderate Inactive Phase to follow starting 1/27 through 2/25, followed by the Active Phase holding through the end of the model run on 3/17 but with west anomalies still in control. 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 third contour line faded 12/17 and to remain suppressed through 1/20, then reappearing thereafter. It appears from this model that El Nino is in control, but we know from other data this is not the case. The atmosphere and ocean are trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence of it occurring yet. If coupling did not happen by Dec 15, it's doubtful it will. 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: (12/21) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and loosing some coverage (after previously reaching east to 175W on 12/11) reaching east today to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W, but has retrograded again today at 161W. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific with temps rebuilding in the Central Pacific at +4 degs at 145W (Possible Kelvin Wave #3). And temps are now stable at 3 degs east of there the whole way into Ecuador. It appears Kelvin Wave #2 is pushing into Ecuador and all but gone with new Kelvin Wave #3 west of the dateline. We were thinking the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred associated with Kelvin Wave #2, but upwelling over Ecuador looks poised to continue nonstop for the next 4 months with the development and merging of Kelvin Wave #3 with Kelvin Wave #2. So there's great surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy through the entirety of the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 12/14 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 in the East Pacific and almost gone with 2 little pockets at +5 degs at 100W pushing into Ecuador and a separate area of modest warming building at +3 degs under the dateline associated with Kelvin Wave #3. Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 90W to 165E solidly. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (12/14) Positive anomalies were solid from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east at 0 to +5 cms, then continuing east over the equator north of New Guinea pushing to +5 cms on the dateline and extending steady into Ecuador.

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: (12/20) 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 a slightly warm imbedded pocket from Ecuador to 120W. Otherwise just generic steady warming was indicated. There was dramatically building of warm water along the coast of Chile and Peru up into Ecuador and building in coverage. And generic warming also extends north to Central America and Mexico and steady. It's not a strong trend towards El Nino, but appears to be trending in that direction. A concerning pocket of cool waters elongated east to west off Peru to 130W has lost much ground. Overall the pattern looks more like El Nino. In all this developing El Nino is weakly in control and not as fragile as previously.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/20): A building broad area of warming water was developing on the equator from the Galapagos to 140W. A broad area of warming was building along the coast of Chile and Peru.
Hi-res Overview: (12/20) Weak warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. But more important, 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 an ENSO neutral pattern 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: (12/21) Today's temps were steady at +1.265 after previously falling to +0.212 on 12/3, after that 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:
(12/21) Today temps were stable at +0.514 after having previously risen 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 (12/21) The model indicates temps were at +0.85 degs in early Dec (which wasn't even close to reality - they were actually about +0.6) then forecast rising some to +1.35 degs by Feb 1 holding to early May 2019, falling to +1.20 degs into July 2019 and down to 1.0 degs in Sept. 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) (12/21): The daily index was stable at +14.98. The 30 day average was rising at +8.83 suggesting a Inactive MJO. The 90 day average was rising some at 2.36, 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): (12/21) The index has risen slightly from at +0.03 on 12/3 to +0.28 on 12/15 and down today to +0.19, 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


Powerlinessurf Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

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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Stormsurf and Mavericks on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luQSYf5sKjQ

Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:
http://www.bloomberg.com/video/how-to-predict-the-best-surfing-waves-EsNiR~0xR5yXGOlOq2MqfA.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/surfs-up-for-mavericks-invitational-in-calif/

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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