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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 29, 2015 5:04 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.0 - California & 3.0- Hawaii
Using the 'Summer' 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 8/31 thru Sun 9/6

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   

Small Atsani Swell Targets California
Hurricanes Swarm Hawaii - South Pacific Productive

Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer
- Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer
- Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

 

On Sunday, August 30, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 4.5 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 3.4 ft @ 14.1 secs from 232 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.0 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 14.5 secs. Wind north-northeast 6-10 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 1.1 ft @ 14.7 secs from 256 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 2.0 ft @ 15.5 secs from 214 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.0 ft @ 14.8 secs from 210 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.3 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 2.9 ft @ 16.0 secs. Wind southeast 8-12 kts. Water temp 62.4 degs.

    Notes

    The hi-res Pt Reyes Buoy has been defunded.  Funding comes from the CA Parks Dept.  We're working to obtain info to explore ways to reactive this buoy. 
    Buoy 46059 is scheduled to come back on-line in October.  

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Saturday (8/29) in North and Central CA at best breaks west swell was producing surf in the chest high range and lined up but with southerly winds adding some bump except at protected breaks. Down in Santa Cruz surf was chest high and lined up and clean with bigger sets at top breaks coming from the southwest. In Southern California up north waves were waist high on the sets and weak and textured early. Down south southern hemi swell was producing waves at head high and clean but a little wonky early. Hawaii's North Shore was getting more Atsani swell with waves head high or so and clean but on the way down. The South Shore was getting residual southwest and west swell producing set waves at waist to maybe chest high at top breaks and clean and lined up early. The East Shore was getting east windswell with waves waist high and chopped early with 15 kt east trades in effect. 

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no large scale non-tropical swell producing weather systems were occurring. Swell from Typhoon Atsani was fading in Hawaii and still pushing towards the US West coast, but a little smaller than forecast.  A low pressure system is falling south through the Northern Gulf of Alaska generating 17 ft seas and expected to continue through Sun (8/30). Small windswell is expected to result for the US West Coast. Three tropical systems are in play, one west of Hawaii and 2 east of it, with one of those poised to move very close to Hawaii. swell for Islands seems likely. Regarding windswell, nothing of interest is forecast relative to California until late next week. Windswell relative to Hawaii is not an issue given the tropical situation. For the southern hemisphere swell from a cutoff low south of Tahiti is hitting California. And a gale tracked east from under New Zealand producing 39 ft seas aimed east with a broader on it's tail Fri-Sun (8/30) generating up to 40 ft seas aimed decently to the northeast, with remnants tracking across the South Pacific. Summer is not over yet. And the El Nino base state continues to evolve solidly with water temps in the Nino3.4 region holding in the strong El Nino category. We're well set up. 

  

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

North Pacific

Overview 
Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/29) a low pressure system was in the Northeast Gulf of Alaska with a front pushing into Northern California generating limited windswell pushing towards the US West Coast (see Gulf Low below). Otherwise no swell producing fetch that wasn't tropical was occurring over the greater North Pacific. But swell from what was Typhoon Atsani has already peaked in Hawaii (Fri PM 8/28) and was pushing towards California (see Tropical Update section below for details). High pressure at 1028 mbs was in the Western Gulf of Alaska blocking the storm track into the Gulf but too far west to not be able to ridge into the US West Coast and too far north relative to Hawaii to offer windswell generation potential of it's own.

Over the next 72 hours relative to California the Gulf high pressure system is to start fading while easing southeast with maybe a finger of it touching Pt Conception and generating a small gradient with 20 kt north winds there by Sun (8/30), but not up into Monterey Bay and points northward. But beyond it is to slowly build up the Central CA coast producing 15 kts north winds and generally trashing conditions without offering windswell potential through the rest of the work week. And this high, as it eases east, is to start blocking the track northeastward of three tropical systems swarming around Hawaii. Relative to Hawaii trades to remain light, below the 15 kt threshold to generate windswell. But the tropical situation is to be of far more interest, but not concern. 

Gulf Low
Low pressure formed in the extreme Northern Gulf of Alaska on Fri AM (8/28) with northwest winds 30-35 kts with the low falling southeast into the evening but winds dropped to 30 kts generating 17 ft seas at 53N 143W. Fetch faded to barely 25 kts Sat AM (8/29) with no seas of interest forecast (< 16 ft). A secondary fetch is to develop in the same area on Sat OM into Sun AM (8/30) producing 25-30 kt west winds and seas on the increase (15 ft). By evening 25-30 kt west winds and 15 ft seas are forecast at 54N 140W (outside/northeast of the NCal swell window). Additional 30 kt northwest fetch is forecast in the NCal swell window Mon AM (8/31) into the evening but seas to only be 15-16 ft at 52N 143W. This system is to be fading out Tues AM (9/1).  Some small north angled windswell is expected to result for North CA starting late Tues (9/1) peaking into Wed (9/2) (4.5 ft @ 11-12 secs - 5 ft) and larger up into Oregon, but nothing more. 

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

 

Tropical Update (as of 12Z Sat 8/29)
Typhoon Atsani:
This system started to turn northeast  Sun AM (8/23) positioned 350 nmiles southeast of Tokyo Japan with winds 75 kts and seas 24 ft per hurricane guidance but 36 ft per the model at 30.5N 148E. This system continued on a northeast heading in the evening with winds 81 kts and seas 36 ft at 32N 150E. Monday AM (8/24) the northeast heading held with winds 58 kts and seas 38 ft at 32N 152E. The Jason2 satellite passed over the western core of the storm at 18Z and reported a 15 reading peak average with seas at 30.0 ft with one reading to 33.4 ft where the model suggested 39 ft seas. The model appeared to be overhyping the storm. In the evening (8/24) winds held at 58 kts with seas 39 ft at 34N 156E (298 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). By Tues AM (8/25) more of the same occurred with 71 kt winds and seas 50 ft at 38N 161E (306 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). A quick fade occurred thereafter with Atsani starting to turn more northerly with winds down to 55 kts and seas 35 ft at 38N 163E (305 degs HI, 296 degs NCal). The Jason-2 satellite passed over the eastern core of the storm at 06Z and reported seas at 28.1 ft with one reading to 32.8 ft where the model suggested 29 ft seas should be. The model was right on track. This system was fading fast Wed AM (8/26) while stalled well west of the dateline with 41 kt winds and 25 ft seas at 38N 166E (307 degs HI, 295 degs NCal). This system faded in the evening with 43 kt winds covering a smaller area aimed southeast and seas to 25 ft at 39N 161E somewhat targeting Hawaii (306 degs, 297 degs NCal).

This system developed nowhere near are strong as the models initially suggested. And no extratropical development occurred. In short is was a fully tropical system circulating well off Japan and 1/2 way to the dateline in late August. That in and of itself is interesting from an El Nino development perspective. But extratropical development would have been far more impressive. This suggests the jetstream is not as has been feared, not really soaking up much energy yet from El Nino. The net result is to be some small longer period swell for Hawaii (swell energy not aimed well down the great circle tracks there but because they are closer, more size to result) and the US West Coast (aimed well down the GC tracks, but much further away). Still, any recurving tropical system that results in swell for US interests in August is a sign of some coupling of El Nino and the atmosphere, and bodes well for the coming Fall and Winter.

Hawaii: Residuals fading Sun (8/30) from 3.3 ft @ 13-14 secs early (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 298-305 degrees)

NCal: Swell arriving early Sun (8/30) with period 19 secs and size tiny and very inconsistent but building. Swell peaking at sunset at 3.3 ft @ 17 secs (5.5 ft). residuals continuing on Mon (8/31) fading from 3 ft @ 15-16 secs (4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 293-296 degrees

Hurricane Ignacio: On Sat AM (8/29) Ignacio was starting to peak 550 nmiles east-southeast of Hawaii with winds 100 kts with 33 ft seas on the 107 deg path (barely on the 112 degree path to northeast Oahu). Swell is to be generated targeting mainly the Big Island and exposed east shores of Maui and Oahu. Winds to push to 110 kts in the evening then a slow fade is to set in with a slightly more northwesterly track setting in. Winds are to be down to 85 kts Mon AM (8/31) positioned 175 nmiles east of the Big Island and then winds down to 75 kts Tues AM (9/1) 75 nmiles north of the Big Island. A northwest track to continue putting Ignacio 150 nmiles north of Oahu Wed AM (9/2) with winds down to 65 kts, then fading to tropical storm status. The GFS model has Ignacio reaching 27.5N 165W and stalling on Fri 99/4) perhaps sending some northwest swell back at the Islands. But for the most part swell generation is to be limited to the window when the storm is approaching the Islands and tracking just north of the Big Island trough Tuesday (9/1) or so.  Something to monitor.

Oahu Northeast Shore: Swell arrival Sun (8/30) building to 3.0 ft @ 14 secs (4.0 ft) late. Mon (8/31) swell is to be building pushing 5.5 ft @ 14 secs (7.5 ft). Swell peaking Tues (9/1) at 7.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (8.5 ft). A slow fade to follow but still 5 ft @ 10-11 secs (5.5 ft) early Wed (9/2). Size errors could be large depending on this storms track and strength.

Hurricane Kilo: On Sat AM (8/29) Kilo was positioned 300 nmiles west-northwest of the Johnson Atoll with winds 80 kts and forecast to take a more northwesterly track moving somewhat towards Midway and the dateline holding solid Sun-Tues (9/2) with winds 105 kts, then moving west of the dateline on a westerly course Wed (9/3) with winds up to 115 kts. The GFS model has it tracking west from there and holding together nicely possibly turning north on Sat (9/5) and just 450 nmiles west of the dateline.  

Super Hurricane Jimena: On Saturday AM (8/29) Jimena was 1700 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island with winds 125 kts (144 mph) and slowly building while tracking west-northwest. Jimena is to peak late Sat PM (8/29) with winds 140 kts (161 mph) then slowly fading from there reaching a point 750 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island late Wed (9/2) with winds down to 85 kts. The GFS has this system turning north on Thurs (9/3) and trying to make headway in that direction as high pressure weakens some off the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Sat (8/29) low pressure was moving into Oregon with a weak wind pattern for central CA wit south winds 15 kts for Cape Mendocino. Later Sunday high pressure from the Western Gulf is to get a nose in the door sneaking under low pressure still in the Gulf perhaps generating a small fetch of 15-20 kts north winds over Pt Conception building up into North and Central CA late continuing through Tuesday then fading to 10-15 kts along only the immediate coast Wed (9/2). By Thursday northwest winds to start rebuilding along all the North and Central Coast at 15-20 kts migrating slowly north and taking up shop over Cape mendocino at 20+ kts on Sat (9/5).

South Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Saturday AM (8/29) the southern branch of the jetstream was tracking northeast under New Zealand forming a broad trough with 120 kts winds flowing up into it supporting gale development. That trough continued east out of the Southern CA swell window, not falling south again til it moved under the southern tip of South America. The northern branch of the jet was tracking east as it has all summer from a point north of Northern New Zealand on the 25S latitude line with winds building to 120 kts in one pocket ridging south near 120W, then rebounding before pushing into Chile. Over the next 72 hours the trough is get reinforced Sun AM (8/30) with 140 kts winds pushing the jet up to 50S by Mon (8/31). Good support for gale development is expected at that time. That trough is to hold while easing east, but with winds slowly fading, then quickly collapsing Wed (9/2). Beyond 72 hrs another trough is to be forming in the far Southwest Pacific on Fri (9/4) with 120 kts south winds pushing up into it, but fading fast on Sat (9/5). Some support for gale development in lower levels of the atmosphere is possible.

Surface Analysis  
On Sat AM (8/29) swell from a previous gale southeast of New Zealand a week earlier (8/20) was hitting California (see Cutoff Low below). And a previous gale south of New Zealand is not expected to produce much swell of interest (see New Zealand Gale below). A primer New Zealand gale followed directly (see 2nd New Zealand Gale below). Of more interest was a small gale that developed under New Zealand (see 1st Real New Zealand Gale below).  And another followed right behind (see 2nd New Zealand Gale below).

Otherwise over the next 72 hours starting Thurs PM (8/27) a solid storm is to start building due south of New Zealand with 50 kt west winds over a decent sized area. Seas on the increase. 50 kt west-southwest winds to hold into Fri AM (8/28) generating 41 ft seas at 59S 178W (191 degs HI, 207 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 208 degs SCal and just east/clear of the Tahiti swell shadow). Fetch is to rapidly fade in the evening from 45 kts over a large area with 40 ft seas at 57S 175W (188 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 205 degs SCal and unshadowed). 40 kt west-southwest winds to continue east on Sat AM (8/29) with seas fading from 38 ft at 56S 162W (182 degs HI, 203 degs NCal and barely unshadowed, 204 degs SCal and clear). Fetch is to be gone by the evening tracking east fast from 35-40 kts with 34 ft seas fading at 55S 150W. Assuming this system forms as forecast a solid long period swell could result for SCal and unshadowed, but shadowed up into NCal and sideband energy for HI.

Cutoff Low
A cutoff low developed south of Tahiti on Wed PM (8/19) generating a small fetch of 45 kt south winds and a sliver of 26 ft seas at 43S 140W aimed at Hawaii and the US West Coast. The low mellowed some Thurs AM (8/20) with 40 kt south winds pushing better to the north generating barely 26 ft seas at 42S 141W. 40 kt southwest winds to hold into the evening with seas 27 ft at 38S 138W. 40 kt southwest winds to hold into Fri AM (8/21) generating 28 ft seas at 37S 133W aimed mainly at Chile with sideband swell pushing north. This system to be fading after that. Possible 15 sec period south angled swell to result for California with a tiny pulse possible for Hawaii.

NCal: Residuals fading on Sun (8/30) from 2.2 ft @ 14 secs (3.0 ft). Swell Direction 190 degrees

New Zealand Gale
A gale low developed south of Tasmania Tues AM (8/18) with 40 kt west winds producing 28 ft seas at 59S 140E (219 degs CA) and tracking east offering some hope near term. The Tasmania gale tracked east with 40 kt west-southwest winds Tues PM (8/18) generating a tiny area of 30 ft seas at 60S 150E (216 degs NCal unshadowed by Tahiti, but becoming shadowed relative to SCal) and totally shadowed by New Zealand relative to HI. Winds were fading from 35 kts Wed AM (8/19) with 29 ft seas fading at 56.5S 162E (shadowed by NZ for HI, 216 NCal and unshadowed, 216 degs SCal and barely unshadowed). This system is to be gone by the evening.  Small swell is possible but it was 7,000 nmiles from CA.

California: Swell to peak on Sun (8/30) at 1 ft @ 16-17 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 216 degrees

New Zealand Gale #2 (Primer)
A weak gale formed southwest of New Zealand on Mon PM (8/24) producing 45 kt west winds and 34 ft seas over a small area at 58S 146E (216 degs CA and shadowed by New Zealand relative to Hawaii). The gale was fading Tues AM (8/2) with fetch dropping from 40 kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 55S 159E (220 degs CA). Minimal background swell is possible relative to California starting Fri PM (9/4) at 1.4 ft @ 17 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) being 7,400 nmiles out but this system served mainly to rough up the oceans surface to provide traction for what is behind. 

1st Real New Zealand Gale
A stronger gale pushed under New Zealand Wed AM (8/26) generating 45 kt west winds starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By evening winds built to 50 kts from the west with seas to 38 ft at 62S 176E. On Thurs AM (8/27) 45 kt west winds continued tracking east with 38 ft seas at 61S 172W (188 degs HI, 202 degs NCal/204 degs SCal and unshadowed). Fetch was fading from 45 kts in the evening with 38 ft seas at 62S 159W (180 degs HI, 197 degs NCal, 198 degs SCal). A quick fade followed. Some small but decent length period swell could result for California with smaller sideband swell for HI. But size to be small with most energy running flat west to east.  

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (9/3) at 2 ft @ 20-21 secs late. Swell building Friday (9/4) to 2.6 ft @ 19 secs mid-day (5.0 ft). Swell continuing Sat (9/5) at 2.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 184-188 degrees

Swell arrival in California with period 20 secs starting Fri sunset (9/4) peaking roughly Sat (9/5) sunset.  Swell Direction: 200-201 degs

2nd New Zealand Gale
Thurs PM (8/27) a solid storm started building due south of New Zealand with 50 kt west winds over a decent sized area. Seas on the increase. 45-50 kt west-southwest winds held into Fri AM (8/28) generating 41 ft seas at 59S 177E (193 degs HI, 209 degs NCal and shadowed by Tahiti, 210 degs SCal and barely shadowed on the east Tahiti swell shadow). Fetch was fading in the evening from 45 kts over a larger area with 40 ft seas at 57S 172W (188 degs HI, 206 degs NCal and shadowed, 205 degs SCal and unshadowed). 40 kt west-southwest winds were fading while continuing east on Sat AM (8/29) with seas fading from 37 ft at 56S 165W (182 degs HI, 204 degs NCal and barely unshadowed, 205 degs SCal and clear). Fetch is to be gone by the evening tracking east fast from 35-40 kts with 33 ft seas fading at 55S 150W. A solid long period swell is expected to result for SCal and unshadowed, but shadowed up into NCal and sideband energy for HI.

Swell arrival in CA expected 11 PM Sat (9/5) with period 20 secs peaking late Sun (9/6). Swell Direction: 205-206 degrees

 

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 no Fall-like swell producing fetch that is not tropical is forecast. High pressure is to weakening while easing east off the Pacific Northwest with another weak high forecast forming over the northern dateline region Fri (9/4) solidifying the lockdown of the Eastern North Pacific and likely muting any attempts of the tropical systems to tap jetstream energy. So there's no real hope for extratropical development to occur.  

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a pair of fetches with 35-40 kt southwest winds to track northeast from under New Zealand Sun-Mon (8/31) and Mon-Tues (9/1) generating 26-28 ft seas aimed well to the north, but not strong enough to produce swell except for Tahiti with background energy for Hawaii. The second is forecast southeast of New Zealand lifting northeast Tues-Wed (9/2) again with 26-28 ft seas targeting mainly central America this time. Otherwise no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

Details to follow...

MJO/ENSO Update


Today's 90 Day SOI Beats Previous Record - Kelvin Wave Wave #3 Continues Warming Galapagos Region
West Wind Anomalies Rebuilding West of Dateline


The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, 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 split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Explanation 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 coupling 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 Sat (8/29):
Analysis from TAO Buoys: Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated strong west winds at 160E moving well north of the equator to the dateline. Anomaly wise modest west anomalies extend from 160E to 160W on the equator but strong north of the equator from 160E to 165W. The anomalous west wind pattern has started to rebuild in the heart of the KWGA. This is good news. 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).
1 Week Forecast: Modest west anomalies are forecast from 150E to 160W then building to 130W later in the week with one pocket of stronger anomalies over the next few days near 170E. This is good news. The GFS model depicts a dead wind pattern starting Sun (8/30) and continuing forward from there but with west winds from 160E to the dateline Sun-Tues (9/1). No east anomalies have occurred this year in the KWGA, not one day.

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 forward. 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 8/29: 
OLR Models: Indicate a modest Inactive MJO signal over the West Pacific. The Statistic model suggests a weak Inactive MJO pattern is to hold over the far West Pacific for the next 15 days making no eastward progress and fading late in the period. The Dynamic model depicts the same but with the Inactive signal fading 7 days out. In essence no MJO influence is forecast. This is typical of the pattern when an El Nino base state strengthens.  
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): They suggest the Active Phase of the MJO is dead and collapsed and is to not return.  
40 Day Upper Level Model: It depicts a weak Active MJO pattern over the East Pacific tracking east over Central America through 9/13. A moderate Inactive Phase is developing in the far West Pacific 8/29 tracking east through 10/3. in reality, this 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 like a 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.        
CFS Model beyond 1 week (850 mb): A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is forecast continuing through 9/30 easing east. Some positive enhancement from a Rossby Wave is forecast now through 9/5 then again 9/12-10/3, with a push of the Active Phase of the MJO remaining scheduled starting 10/3 in the far West Pacific holding till 11/11 with a solid WWB imbedded in that. No easterly anomalies are forecast for the long term. Westerly anomalies are to rule from 8/25 over the entire KWGA and holding well into mid-Nov. The question is, will another Kelvin Wave result? A solid WWB is forecast in the middle of the Active Phase centered on 10/13. We'll see.

The general consensus by the models has updated now with the slightly Inactive MJO pattern having a lesser role from now through the next 4 weeks. And that is to be negated by positive support from a Rossby Wave starting now in the East Pacific and easing west into early October. And the Active Phase is still on the charts, but forecast a little weaker than previous runs. In reality, a pure El Nino base state is at play driving current west anomalies and not expected to change much anytime soon, or if anything, build. Westerly anomalies, regardless of their source, are all that's required to push warm water to the east. And that situation is not in question.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (8/29) On the equator and under the dateline (160-180W) temperature anomalies remain impressive. 29 deg temps are between 155E to 132W (holding) with a pocket at 30 degs building extending from the dateline to 140W (expanding) and 70 meters down. +2.0 degs anomalies are fully bulging from the dateline eastward and +4 deg anomalies cover from 155W eastward (holding), the direct effects of the massive June-July WWB. A large warm reservoir at +5-7 deg above normal is poised to erupt into Ecuador (leading edge starting now). That reservoir is holding coverage with peak +7 degs anomalies centered at 115W (expanding) and +5 deg anomalies extending east from 145W to Ecuador (holding). 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. The pipe is open with more warm water rushing in and very warm water starting to erupt into the Galapagos. The hi-res subsurface animation clearly depicts the backdraft cool pool has dissipated and a finger of warm water is now starting to work it's way into the Galapagos.
Sea Surface Height Anomalies (SSHA):  Data from 8/21 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 178E with a core at +15 cm from 110-150W (holding). And now anomalies are building into Ecuador (0-+5 cm) indicative of the arrival of the 3rd Kelvin wave. This is most impressive. All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with a large Kelvin Wave in flight in the mid-Pacific poised to merge with a subsurface reservoir poised off Ecuador. This is a classic major El Nino setup, not a standard El Nino.
Upper Ocean Heat Content: As of (8/21) this data drives the point home. It indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 178W and the Galapagos (holding). +1.0-1.5 degs are from 172W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 155W. All these sectors are holding. A pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 150W-->106W (holding) with a large pocket of +2.5 deg anomalies between 140W-->120W (shrinking some). A pocket of cooler 0.5-1.0 degs anomalies is holding between the Galapagos and Ecuador (from 91W-80W) and not moving east but the satellite data above contradicts that suggesting eastward movement. We believe the backdraft pool is gone. 

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 poised with it's leading edge starting to present over the Galapagos, the strongest of all an getting stronger with each update. A pause in warming near Ecuador occurred, suggestive of a break between successive strong Kelvin Waves. But that gap is fading fast now. The subsurface configuration suggests there are 2.5 months of warm water in this reservoir (till Nov 1) and some of that water is extremely warm. The peak is forecast to occur roughly on 10/4. And a pause in westerly anomalies over most of the KWGA is now fading, with westerly anomalies starting to rebuild. So the question becomes, is this third Kelvin Wave the final one, or will another follow? 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. Historically this is a great setup.  

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.
Satellite Imagery
Low-res:
(8/27) Some positive change is displaying with a warmer pocket starting to build near northern Ecuador. Otherwise a warm water signal covering the entire equatorial Pacific. But the pattern is ill defined and less concentrated compared to peak warming on 7/16. Some of this might be attributable to color scaling between the low-res images and hi-res images. Comparing todays image to anything post 1997, it's obvious the equatorial East Pacific is way warmer than anything other than '97 (at this time). A huge pool of warm water is covering the entire equatorial Pacific and filling the entire North Pacific Ocean. Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region as of the latest image are warming again. No cool waters are present. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, perhaps building some. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast and holding while extending west the whole way to Japan but unrelated to this years El Nino, but possibly attributable to the building warm phase of the PDO. Slightly cool water is over north Australia up to New Guinea. the cool wake of Typhoons Goni and Atsani are evident off the Philippines and Japan. Slightly warm water continues near Madagascar suggestive of a building Indian Ocean Dipole.  
Hi-res Nino1.2: (8/28) Water temps are holding today along both sides of the Galapagos with a pocket of cooler water previously just east of the immediate Galapagos all but gone. +2.25 anomalies extend almost unbroken from Ecuador west past the Galapagos with one pocket extending down the Peruvian Coast. And other very warm pockets are west of the Galapagos to 120W. We want to see this area building dramatically, as the new erupting Kelvin Wave builds momentum. The hi-res chart that depict temp changes over the past 7 days depicts warm pockets at 107W and 98W , but also one remnant cooler pocket is at 83W. We continue to believe the 3rd Kelvin Wave is starting to erupt around the Galapagos and now into Peru and Ecuador in the exact same area that previous cooler water was covering, and the warmer water is warming the cooler pockets (a good thing). The arrival of this Kelvin wave is highly anticipated. Previously a rapid decline in anomalies started 8/13 and then crashed on 8/15 east of 100W with only limited pockets of +2.5 deg or greater anomalies present. This cooler pocket started working it's way west over the Galapagos, but warming started just in time, on 8/23 and appears to be negating any cooling affect. The upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle appears to be over, and quickly. Peak temps occurred between the Galapagos and Ecuador on 7/14, then faded between 7/14-7/30 (and is reflected in the low res imagery too - see above). From 7/31-8/13 temps between Ecuador and the Galapagos stabilized then crashed starting 8/13 finally bottoming out 8/17. A slow warm up started 8/23.
Galapagos Virtual Station: (8/28) This station reported temp anomalies at +2.6 degs, down from the +2.7-3.2 range the past 6 days. Regardless, the trend is upward. 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. Much more warm water is poised at depth just off Ecuador (see below).  
Hi-res NINO 3.4:
 (8/28) Unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies continue advecting west from a previous Kelvin Wave that impacted the Galapagos, and are rebuilding from 150W, almost unbroken as of today. They retracted a bit between (8/15-8/22). And warmer anomalies are building back at 105W and 120W advecting west. Total coverage of anomalies continues to build. 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. This is advection west of warm water resulting from eruption of the 1st and 2nd Kelvin Waves earlier this year.

Other Sources
TAO Data: +1.0 anomalies are in control over most entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline. We're monitoring the +0.0 anomaly line to see if it's moving east. Today its at 162E. There is an embedded area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies extending from the Galapagos to 148W (expanding west) with +1.5 deg anomalies reaching to 152W (easing west). Overall the warm water signature is holding. The peak may hold, rather than loose some ground as recently thought.
Nino1.2 Index Temps: (8/29) Temps are on the increase currently at +1.7 degs up from +1.3 on 8/26, and up compared to the bottom temp of +1.0 degs on 8/20 (peak of the upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase). 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, then started building to +1.7 by 8/29.
Nino 3.4 Index Temps: Temps are holding at +1.98. The all time peak for this event was +2.24 degs on 8/23. By any normal standard we are in Strong El Nino now. In '97 for Aug the monthly anomaly in Nino3.4 was +2.0. Our guess for this months monthly anomaly so far is ~+1.8. 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 Nin3.4. 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.

Pacific Counter Current:  As of 8/17 the current continues solid and building. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area mainly north of the equator and still solid but fading while pushing west from 160W to 120W before fading out. A pocket of modest east anomalies was over the immediate Galapagos. Anomaly wise - Strong west anomalies were spread mostly north of the equator over the West Pacific to the dateline, with a strong pocket north of the equator from the dateline to 140W, then fading in pockets continuing to 100W. No east anomalies were indicated. This is fairly impressive, suggesting this event is getting legs. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, today's image actually is fairly similar, if just a hair less strong. This is a significant improvement.  

SST Anomaly projections
CFSv2 model - PDF Corrected:
 For the model run 8/29 for the Nino 3.4 region, peak temperatures are stable. It suggests water temps are at +1.75 deg C (verified at 1.9 degs today) and are to steadily warm continuing to +2.0 degs by Oct peaking at +2.15 degs by Nov, then dropping off. Considering temps in Nino3.4 now and the size of the new Kelvin Wave forming subsurface, we suspect this projection is on the low side. Uncorrected data suggests peaks to +3.15 degs
IRI C
onsensus Plume: The mid-Aug Plume has upgraded significantly, suggesting peak temps between +2.0 degs (Statistical models), +2.5 degs (Dynamic) with the CPC consensus at +2.3. The mid-July consensus was spread between +1.5-2.0 degs. See chart here - link. 

(8/23) 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 and whatever comparison there was is fading out quickly. The '97 event built non-stop from this point forward (in terms of areal coverage). Instead, the 2015 event, though warming nicely with comparable anomalies in Nino3.4, is weak in Nino1.2 and the coverage of warm waters is a worm in comparison to '97s mammoth coverage. Total coverage of warm waters in the current imagery still remains respectable, but the depth of concentration is weak. A clear and significant downgrade occurred in the Galapagos area 8/12-8/20 and was likely 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. Concerns about these cooler waters advecting west and eventually negatively impacting temps in the Nino3.4 region are at least for now being moderated by pockets of warm water from the third Kelvin Wave starting to upwell around the Galapagos and into Ecuador. There appears to be plenty of water poised in the subsurface reservoir, and if anything, is building driven by the strength and duration of the most recent WWB (late June) when the resulting Kelvin Wave hits (peak temps in Nino 1.2 expected 10/4).

Atmospheric Coupling Index's (lagging indicators rather than driving oceanic change): As of Sun (8/23):  
Daily Southern Oscillation Index: Was falling from -22.20. We've just completed a roughly 25 day run of values below -10 with 16 days of that below -20 (7/23-8/22) and now were on another negative run.  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 rising from -18.87, but that will start falling shortly. 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 falling slightly at -14.25, beating the past record for this year. It has been at or below -10.0 since early July and bottomed out at a low reading on 8/5 at -14.17, then was beat on 8/29 at -14.25. 
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): Weak high pressure is in control here expected to hold to Mon (8/31). Low pressure takes over until Wed (9/2) when high pressure returns through Sun (9/6).    
SOI trend - Tahiti (looking for low pressure here): Low pressure was building south of Tahiti Wed-Mon (8/31) and expected to keep driving the SOI negative. But high pressure is forecast for the same area Wed-Thurs (9/3).  More low pressure to track south of Tahiti Fri-Sat (9/5).
SOI 1 week Forecast: The net result is to be a modest falling SOI through Sun (9/30) then rising some into mid-week, falling after that.     
SOI Analysis: During El Nino, the SOI functions as a measure of how well the ocean and atmosphere are coupled. Current numbers suggest good but not great coupling, 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): No south winds were in play, but are forecast to start building on Sun (8/30) holding for 3 days then fading and not returning till Sat (9/5). 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), but not lately. 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): (8/29) Today's value was +1.89 and building. The ESPI was steady in the +2.5 range through 8/10, then began falling, to +2.42 on 8/18 and +1.78 on 8/26. 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 coupled with the atmosphere, more so than some of the other indices indicate.
Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (July) The current ranking is 1.97 SD (65). The MEI for July actually went down (0.09 SD) from last month. At this same time in '97 the ranking was 2.85 SD (66) and in '82 it was 1.7 SD (61). So we're slightly above the '82 event but well below '97, or comfortably on track for this time of year to move into Super El Nino territory. 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. Suffice it to say were are somewhere between '82 and '97 in term of of atmospheric coupling per this index.  
North Pacific Jetstream (8/29) A modest flow was trying to run across the North Pacific roughly centered at 44N but a large ridge was just east of the dateline pushing the jet up into the Bering Sea. This is not impressive and suggests only weak influence by El Nino is occurring. The fact that Typhoon Atsani never turned extratropical only drives that point home.  More of the same is forecast until Tues (9/1) when the ridge is forecast to break down and 120 kt west winds are to start pushing over the dateline down at 40N and hold but weakening into the weekend. There's some evidence Ignacio might get absorbed into the jet on the dateline on Fri (9/4).

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 play 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, in flight now. Preceding this Kelvin Wave is a pocket of less warm water. But with a large warm reservoir lodged just west of the Galapagos and the third Kelvin Wave moving into it, warming is expected to resume shortly. At this time we believe the classic El Nino feedback/teleconnection loop is in effect, with the atmosphere and the ocean are well coupled.   

The 2015 El Nino pattern is not quite as impressive as it was in late July and certainly not compared to the '97 at this time of year. But it has found a way to move forward regardless. Temps in the Nino 3.4 region today are a testament to that (+2.24 as of 8/23). So the big question then becomes: 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 higher the resulting number. And for the most part 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.  All El Nino events are different. The '97 event started early, developed out of a previous cold La Nina water state, and never looked back. Other strong events in '72, '86, and '91 had dissimilar profiles. The point being, there is no exact template for a strong El Nino other than they tend to form in the Spring and peak during the following Winter. Regarding the exact micro-details of each event (WWB, Kelvin Wave speed, arrival time etc) all generally follow a similar pattern. Given the false start of this El Nino in 2014 (and for that matter the other false start in 2012), this event has taken it's sweet time getting organized. But it's been struggling against an atmospheric bias towards La Nina driven by the cool phase of the PDO. We believe the atmosphere is trying to transition 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 poised to erupt now. It will take at least 3 months for the tail end to erupt over the Galapagos and advects through the Nino 3.4 region. So that covers us till November. And regarding the 'warm blob' off the Pacific Northwest, we believe that is more a symptom of the developing warm PDO, and will get punctured by incoming storms once El Nino gets traction and the jetstream energizes in the late Jan/early Feb 2016 timeframe. Winds from storms cause mixing and upwelling, which in turn cool surface waters.

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 the Active Phase of the MJO does develop in the Sept-Oct timeframe as predicted by the CFS model, and if a significant Kelvin Wave results, it would not arrive in Ecuador till ~Jan 1, 2016, and not disburse till a month later (Feb). that would mean a total duration of El Nino temps in the Nino3.4 region of 16 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) that is equivalent to two other Super El Nino events is no guarantee that this years event will eventually evolve into a Super El Nino. We still have 1.0 SDs to go. Though looking at the record back to 1950 for other events that have similar values in July, the odds favor that outcome. Still, the argument goes back moving warm water east and then advecting it west. That is accomplished through WWBs and Kelvin Waves. 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 the MJO and 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 play.  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 later August and 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, but still should result in minimal swell, and we suspect is just the first of more to come. Until then, continue strength, endurance, flexibility and balance training. Don't forget breath holding either. Complete build out of your quivers. And if you own beachfront property in California, or even well inland, pay your insurance premiums. Life insurance isn't a bad idea either.      

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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