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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 0:51 AM
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
4.0 - California & 4.0 - 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 3/17 thru Sun 3/23

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   

Hawaii Swell Moving Towards CA
Gale Developing in Gulf

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Wednesday, March 20, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.6 ft @ 15.4 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 15.9 secs from 275 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 5.5 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 3.8 ft @ 12.5 secs from 337 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 12.8 secs with swell 1.8 ft @ 13.6 secs from 220 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 2-6 kts. Water temperature 58.1 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 1.4 ft @ 12.6 secs from 260 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.8 ft @ 12.5 secs from 222 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 2.1 ft @ 14.4 secs from 202 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.7 ft @ 13.5 secs from 228 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 4.6 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 2.4 ft @ 16.8 secs from 259 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was southeast at 10-12 kts. Water temp 55.4 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 Tuesday (3/19) in North and Central CA residual Gulf primer swell was fading with waves in the chest to shoulder high range and lined up and clean with light southeast winds though inconsistent. Protected breaks were flat and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was flat and clean. In Southern California/Ventura surf was flat to thigh high on the sets and clean and weak. In North Orange Co north swell was producing surf at chest high on the sets and lined up and running down the beach but with some southerly lump pushing up the face. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were chest high on the sets and lined up and clean but soft with a light southeast warble on it. North San Diego had surf at thigh to waist high on the sets and clean but inconsistent and soft. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting slightly raw but cleaner local swell with waves 10 ft plus on the face but still a bit all over the place. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting wrap around windswell with waves waist to chest high and chopped from modest east trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (3/19) minimal leftover swell from a primer gale that was in the Gulf tracking east Wed-Thurs (3/14) with 33 ft seas was limping into exposed breaks in California while swell from a stronger and broader gale was still hitting Hawaii having been generated Thurs (3/14) off Japan continuing east into Mon (3/18) traversing the width of the North Pacific with seas to 36 ft aimed southeast targeting primarily Hawaii. And yet another gale was traversing the North Pacific Sun-Tues (3/19) with seas in the 33 ft range and is forecast to redevelop in the Central Gulf Wed-Thurs (3/21) with 35 ft seas aimed east. A nice little run of late season swell is underway.

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 Tuesday AM (3/19) the jetstream was somewhat consolidated tracking east off Japan with winds 140 kts in one thin embedded stream building in coverage to 150 kts in the Western Gulf and falling into a deepening but pinched trough off the California coast with a second weaker trough over the dateline both offering some support for gale development. The jet was split 200 nmiles off the CA coast but that is expected to be short lived. Over the next 72 hours the dateline trough is to start carving itself out in the Gulf by Wed-Fri (3/22) being fed by 170 kts winds offering some support for gale development. But back to the west the jet is to weaken with winds down to 110 kts and split weakly on the dateline suggesting a pause in the action. Beyond 72 hours starting Sat (3/23) wind energy is to start rebuilding over Japan at 160 kts pushing east-northeast reaching the dateline on Mon (3/25) while weakening to 130 kts producing a weak trough off Kamchatka offering limited support for gale development there. At that time in the east the jet is to be weakly split over the Western Gulf but with a trough locked off the Pacific Northwest and California coasts being fed by only weak winds at 100-120 kts offering support mainly for weather. By Tues (3/26) that trough is to be fading off the CA coast with a weak and broad and not well consolidated flow running flat east over the North Pacific with winds averaging 100 kts with no troughs indicated and no support for gale development suggested. It looks like a Springtime pattern is to start setting up over the North Pacific.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/18) swell from a on a gale that developed while falling southeast from the dateline towards Hawaii was still hitting Hawaii (see Hawaiian Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours one more gale is forecast. This gale developed off Japan on Sat PM (1/16) with 55 kt winds from the northwest and seas on the increase from 26 ft at 40N 157E aimed east. The gale built some Sun AM (3/17) with 45 kt west winds over a building area and seas 38 ft over a small area aimed east at 40N 164E aimed east. The gale faded while tracking east in the evening with winds 40 kts over a small area and seas 34 ft at 40N 171.5E aimed east. On Mon AM (3/18) the gale was crossing the dateline and rebuilding with 45 kt west winds and seas 33 ft at 41N 180W aimed east. In the evening the gale was tracking into the far Western Gulf with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 32 ft at 41.5N 172W aimed east. On Tues AM (3/19) the gale was fading out while stalling in the Western Gulf with barely 30 kt northwest winds and 29 ft seas at 43N 164.5W aimed east. A secondary fetch was building just south of the original fetch in the evening at 40-45 kts from the northwest with seas building from 24 ft at 38N 169W aimed east. On Wed AM (3/20) the new fetch is to be at 55 kts over a tiny area aimed east with seas starting to build at 33 ft at 40N 160W. In the evening a solid fetch of 40+ kt northwest winds is to be centered in the Gulf with a core at 45 kts aimed east with seas building to 39 ft at 44N 154W aimed east. The gale is to be lifting north Thurs AM (3/21) with winds 40 kts from the west and seas 35 ft at 41.5N 156W aimed east. In the evening westerly fetch is to be lifting north at 35-45 kts with seas 32 ft over a modest area embedded in a broad area of 28-29 ft seas centered at 41N 152W aimed east. The gael is to fade out on Fri AM (3/22) with 30-35 kt west winds fading in the Gulf and seas 25-26 ft at 42N 146W aimed east. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell from the first pulse of this storm arrival on Wed (3/20) building to 7.0 ft @ 16-17 secs (11.5 ft Hawaiian). Swell fading on Thurs AM (3/21) from 6.2 ft @ 14 secs (8.5 ft). Swell holding Fri (3/22) at 6.0 ft @ 12-13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 315-320 degrees Secondary swell to possibly arrive on Sat (3/23) well before sunrise and fading from 6.9 ft @ 14 secs early (9.5 ft). Residuals fading on Sun (3/24) from 5.3 ft @ 14 secs (7.0 ft). Swell Direction: 345 degrees

NCal: Expect swell arrival from the first pulse of this gale on Fri (3/22) building to 6.7 ft @ 16 secs late (10.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290 degrees Swell from the second pulse to arrive Friday evening and peaking Sat AM (3/23) at 9.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (14.5 ft). Swell Direction: 290-295 degrees

 

Hawaiian Gale
And of more interest is a new gale that is developing on Thurs AM (3/14) tracking east off North Japan with 45 kt west winds over a tiny area and seas building from 22 ft at 39N 162E aimed east. In the evening winds held at 45 kts tracking and aimed east approaching the dateline with seas 26 ft at 40.5N 173E. On Fri AM (3/15) the gale was building in coverage on the dateline with 40 kt northwest winds and seas up to 29 ft at 43.5N 177.5W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale was starting to fall southeast with winds 35-40 kts over a solid area and seas to 29 ft at 40N 176W aimed east-southeast. On Sat AM (1/16) the gale was building solidly with winds 40+ kts from the northwest over a solid area aimed well at Hawaii and nearby with seas 35 ft at 39N 174W falling southeast. In the evening the gale is to fade some with northwest winds 40 kts positioned due north of Hawaii with seas 33 ft at 34.5N 167.5W targeting Hawaii well. On Sun AM (3/17) the gale is to be lifting northeast with winds 30 kts from the northwest and seas 27 ft over a decent sized area at 30N 160W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to continue lifting northeast and fading with winds 25 kts and seas dissipating from 23 ft at 30N 153W aimed east-southeast. Swell possible for Hawaii and the US West Coast. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Residuals on Tues AM (3/19) fading from 4.5 ft @ 11-12 secs (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 323-332 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues afternoon (3/19) building to 5.9 ft @ 17 secs (10 ft). Swell fading Wed (3/20) from 6.7 ft @ 15 secs (10 ft). Residuals on Thurs (3/21) fading from 5.9 ft @ 13 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 275-285 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 Tuesday AM (3/19) south winds associated the weak front off the coast were over the North and Central CA at 5-10 kts with the core of the low and front pushing into Central CA late afternoon. Light rain developing in the evening for mainly Central CA down into Southern CA with less chances for North CA. Light snow at higher elevations of the Central Sierra. Wednesday (3/20) low pressure is to be over the North CA coast with southwest winds 15 kts for North CA and west winds 10 kts for Central CA early turning west 5-10 kts all locations later afternoon. Light rain for the entire state through the day. Light snow for all the Sierra through the day and into the evening. Thursday (3/21) weak high pressure is to be setting up a light west flow at 5 kts for the whole state early though up to 15 kts for Southern CA from the northwest fading all locations through the day. Light patchy rain mainly for Central and South CA through the day. Light snow for higher elevations of the Sierra through the day. Friday (3/22) a stronger front is to be impacting North CA early with south winds 25+ kts and south winds 15 reaching south to Monterey Bay mid-day then fading with the front dissipating. Rain building south down to Morro Bay in the evening. Light snow building late evening for the Sierra. Sat (3/23) high pressure is to be weakly in control northwest winds 10 kts for North CA and 15 kts for Central CA. Light rain around the Golden Gate early. Light snow for the Sierra through the day. Sunday (3/24) light winds are forecast early turning southeast 15 kts late afternoon from Monterey Bay northward as another front approaches. rain building for North Ca overnight. Monday (3/25) south winds are forecast at 15 kts from Big Sur northward through the day and south 10 kts down to Pt Conception with low pressure circulating just off the NCal coast. Rain and a front pushing south from Northern Ca to Monterey in the evening. Snow developing for Tahoe late. Tuesday (3/26) the low off the coast is to dissipate with 5-10 kt south winds early fading to calm later. Light rain mainly for the San Francisco Bay Area with the remnants of the front stalled there and holding all day. Mainly rain limited to Tahoe.

Total snow accumulation for for the week (thru Tues PM 3/26) per the GFS model: Tahoe = 12-18 inches and Mammoth = 7 inches

Snow Models: http://www.stormsurf.com/mdls/menu_snow.html (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts).

 

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 no swell producing weather systems are forecast.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models continue suggesting a gale building in the Central South Pacific starting 18Z Wed (3/20) with seas 31 ft at 60S 160W aimed east-northeast. By 06Z Thurs (3/21) seas are to build to 34 ft at 60S 150W aimed east-northeast. 31 ft seas to hold till 18Z on Thurs at 56S 140W aimed northeast. Then the gale is to fade.

Perhaps another to follow in the Central South Pacific on Fri PM (3/22) with 30 ft seas at 61S 170W aimed east-northeast.

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

SSTs Rebuilding - SOI Negative But Looking to Rise

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 did not stop, 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 to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. As of January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then started building some late in Feb associated with another Kelvin Wave (#3).

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 (KWGA - Kelvin Wave Generation Area - The area 5 degrees north and south of the equator from 170W to 135E)
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (3/18) 5 day average winds were solidly from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, and also easterly over the KWGA but lighter south of the equator. Anomalies were modest easterly over the far East equatorial Pacific turning light westerly over the Central equatorial Pacific and continuing light westerly over the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/19) light west anomalies were over the KWGA. The forecast is for building west anomalies continuing through the end of the model run on 3/26 pushing to moderate strength. Support for storm development is modest but is to be building some a week out.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/18) A neutral MJO pattern was indicated over the entire Pacific. The statistic model indicates a weak MJO signal is to persist with perhaps a weak Active signal developing over the Maritime Continent 8 days out and holding through day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Active Phase developing further east in the KWGA at day 8 over the West Pacific and building slightly at day 15. the 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/19) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was exceedingly weak over the Indian Ocean and is effectively to hold there for the next 15 days. The GEFS model suggests the same thing.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical model): (3/18) This model depicts a weak Active Phase was over the far West Pacific. This weak Active Phase is to move east while fading pushing into Central America weakly on 4/10. A weak Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 4/2 pushing east to Central America at the end of the model run on 4/25. A very weak Active MJO is to follow. this model suggests the MJO is very weak.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/18) This model depicts moderate west anomalies in the KWGA today with the Active Phase in the Central KWGA and the Inactive Phase exiting out of it to the east. Modest to moderate west anomalies are to be building in the Western KWGA and pushing east filling the KWGA 3/19 and holding through 4/1 then weakening but with weak west anomalies holding through the end of the model run on 4/15. No east anomalies are forecast in the KWGA. Weak west anomalies are forecast pushing into California 4/1-4/15.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/19) This model depicts a modest Inactive MJO signal was fading in the East KWGA while the Active Phase was entering the West KWGA. The Active Phase is to be solid in the KWGA by 3/24 holding through 4/15 with weak west anomalies in the core of the KWGA building modestly and holding through the end of the Active MJO phase. After that a very weak MJO pattern is to set up with no MJO in place 4/15-5/14 but with modest west anomalies holding. After that a very weak Active MJO signal is forecast 5/14-5/30 with west anomalies steady just below or at WWB status during the period. Moderate westerly anomalies to hold through the end of the model run on 6/16 even through no MJO signal is forecast. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east to California but not inland anymore and forecast to hold steady for the foreseeable future. A third contour line faded 12/17 but rebuilt starting 2/12 centered over the dateline and is to hold through the end of the model run. And a 4th control line was to develop 4/5-4/25 but has now disappeared. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control during 2018, then faded, and is now trying to rebuild and stronger in May. Theoretically the atmosphere and ocean were trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean during the summer of 2018, but that faded in the late Fall of 2018 with no objective evidence that coupling every happened. But it seems that tendency is trying to redevelop again (or at least forecast to do it). This pattern is more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere has turned from a La Nina pattern (that had 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. But of more interest, if the low pass filter forecast holds, maybe El Nino to develop next year.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/19) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 29-30 deg temps reaching east to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W near Christmas, then retrograded back at 160W in late Feb, but made a major push east today from 150W on 3/16 to 140W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25-30 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific at +1 degs or greater with a pocket of warm water centered at 150W at +3 degs (Kelvin Wave #3) pushing east into Ecuador. We think the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed 2018-2019 El Nino already occurred associated mainly with Kelvin Wave #2. But Kelvin Wave #3 is the warmest of them all so far and is to add some warmth moving into the 2019-202 El Nino year. And a new Westerly Wind Burst (2/12-2/24) might add yet more fuel (warm water) to the proverbial fire. So there's good sub-surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy for the foreseeable future. Cool anomalies previous off the Central America coast are gone. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/14 indicates cool water associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle occurring there but fading. Kelvin Wave #3 was building at +4-5 degs from New Guinea to the dateline east to 110W (attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst 12/30-1/16 and another 2/12-2/24). There is a river of very warm water traversing the width of the equatorial Pacific. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (3/14) Positive anomalies were gone from the interior Maritime Continent with weak negative anomalies there now. But positive anomalies were solid tracking east from 150E over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (110W) at 0-5 cms with an imbedded pocket of +5 cms anomalies from 165E to 120W and a broad peak at +10 cm from 145W to 120W. -5 cms anomalies were in a small pocket at 95W associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle and fading steadily.

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: (3/18) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were modestly warm straddling 10-15 degrees north and south of the equator from a point just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline. These temps were stable. Warm water was building strongly along the coast of Chile and Peru up to Ecuador. But a weird pocket of cold water was still off Columbia and Panama and stable. There is more of an indication of El Nino now than at any point prior in the last 3 years, but this cold water pocket is concerning. Overall the pattern looks modestly like El Nino, but nothing more.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/18): Warming water was building weakly on the equator from just west of the Galapagos west to the dateline. Pronounced cooling was fading fast on the equator from Panama and Columbia west to the Galapagos and rapid warming was filling the vacuum.
Hi-res Overview: (3/18) Modest warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru but with cold water off Panama down to Columbia and out to the Galapagos. After that warm anomalies were on the equator from there out to the dateline. It was holding compared to days past. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime now. And it's almost starting to look like an El Nino pattern is developing based on surface temps.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/19) Today's temps were rebounding today at +0.911 after falling hard from +0.065 on 3/8 to -1.309 on 3/13. Temps fell to -0.6 degs on 2/28, after rising to +0.5 on 2/25, down to -0.425 degrees on 2/14, and that after rising to +1.2 degs on 2/2. Previously temps fell to -0.15 degs on 2/28. Temps rose to a peak +1.385 on 1/21. Previously they were down to -0.44 on 12/25, and that after having risen to +1.265 on 12/20. Previously temps fell to +0.212 on 12/3, after having previously built to +1.534 on 11/27. That peak on 11/27 was the all time high for this event in this region.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(3/19) Today temps were down some at +0.723 today after falling to +0.694 on 3/9 and that after rising to +1.239 on 3/5 after falling to +0.050 on 2/11. Temps rose to a peak at +0.738 on 1/21, after being at +0.487 on 1/7 and after 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.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (3/19) The model indicates temps were at +1.10 degs on March 1. Temps are forecast slowly building from +1.1 degs in early April and building to +1.45 degrees in July, then slowly fading through the summer to +1.25 degs in Oct, then falling to +1.0 degs
in early Dec. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino tried to build weakly in the Winter of 18/19, but didn't really make it, then is to build in the summer on 2019 and building more into the Winter of 2019/20. But maybe a multiyear warming event is in progress as suggested by this model.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 2019 Plume depicts temps are at +0.65 degs today, and are to hold in the +0.6 range into July, then fade to +0.4 in October 2019. 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) (3/19): The daily index was still negative at -1.44 and has been negative the last 44 days (since Feb 4). The 30 day average was rising some at -12.53 suggesting an Active MJO. The 90 day average was falling at -5.86, suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern (for now) but possibly pushing towards El Nino. There is no indication that El Nino is present in the atmosphere per this index.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (3/19) The index was neutral at -0.01 on 2/14 but has been rising ever since and pushed up to +0.99 on 3/3 (the highest its been in years), but is down and falling slightly at +0.29 today. It was down to -0.24 in late December, down from +0.28 on 12/15 and not anywhere near as strongly positive as it should be if El Nino were developing. It suggest only ENSO neutral conditions.
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 -0.43, Sept -0.46, Oct -0.75, Nov -0.78, Dec -0.12, Jan -0.23, Feb -0.55 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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