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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Saturday, August 1, 2015 1:34 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
Swell Potential Rating = 2.8 - California & 3.3 - 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 8/3 thru Sun 8/9

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   

2 Small South Swells Pushing Towards CA
Mini WWB Continues - But Water Temps Retreat Some Off Ecuador

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 Saturday, August 1, 2015 :

  • Buoy 165 (Barbers Point): Seas were 3.7 ft @ 14.3 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 14.3 secs from 187 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.3 ft @ 14.0 secs with swell 1.7 ft @ 14.6 secs. Wind southwest 8-12 kts early. At Santa Barbara swell was 0.5 ft @ 14.8 secs from 230 degrees. At Santa Monica swell was 1.9 ft @ 14.8 secs from 214 degrees. Southward from Orange County to San Diego swell was 2.0 ft @ 14.5 secs from 216 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 & 029 (Half Moon Bay): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 15.0 secs with swell 1.9 ft @ 14.6 secs. Wind west 2-4 kts. Water temp 63.0 degs.

PACIFIC OVERVIEW
Current Conditions
On Saturday (8/1) in North and Central CA local north windswell was producing surf in the thigh high range at best breaks and textured early. Down in Santa Cruz southern hemi leftover swell was producing surf at waist high with a few bigger peaks at top spots and clean early but pretty slow. In Southern California up north surf was really small with only a few rideable sets in the knee high range and clean early. Down south waves were waist high on the sets and clean and lined up but pretty soft. Hawaii's North Shore was flat and reasonably clean with some early sideshore texture. The South Shore was getting minimal background southern hemi swell with waves waist high on the sets and clean but unremarkable. The East Shore was getting tradewind generated east windswell with waves up to waist high and chopped from trades. 

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

Meteorological Overview
For the North Pacific no large scale swell producing weather systems were in play or forecast. Regarding windswell, trades were in control over and east of Hawaii and forecast to hold with swell from Hurricane Guillermo in the water pushing towards exposed east shores by this weekend. Relative to California high pressure has temporarily retreated with no windswell producing fetch occurring and none forecast till perhaps later in the workweek. For the southern hemisphere a modest gale tracked through the eastern edge of the California swell window on Mon (7/27) producing 29 ft seas aimed northeast offering some hope for small swell for CA by early in the workweek (8/4). and another smaller gale produced 29 ft seas in the same area Wed AM (7/29) again offering hope for small south angled swell for CA by later in the workweek. . Beyond a split upper level flow continues to be problematic hindering storm production over the bulk of the South Pacific.  

 

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

North Pacific

Overview 
Surface Analysis
On Saturday (8/1) no swell producing fetch was occurring over the greater North Pacific. Weak high pressure at 1024 mbs was in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska ridging east into British Columbia and generating a weak pressure gradient over the Pacific Northwest producing 15-20 kt north winds resulting in small north angled windswell down to Oregon, but hardly anything relative to California. Relative to Hawaii the high was generating trades at 15 kts starting well east of the Islands and pushing west over them, resulting in some easterly windswell.

Over the next 72 hours high pressure relative to California is to remain away from the coast with no swell producing fetch from it forecast.  Relative to Hawaii trades to hold east of the Islands at 15 kts into Monday AM (8/3) then fade. B ut the bigger influence from a swell production standpoint will become Hurricane Guillermo (see Tropical Update below). No other swell source was indicated.

 

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

 

Tropical Update
Hurricane Guillermo developed Thurs PM (7/30) positioned 1750 nmiles east-southeast of the Big Island tracking west-northwest with winds 70 kts and seas 22 ft. Small 13 secs period swell was possibly being generated expected to arrive on the Big Island Monday morning (8/3). Guillermo built from there and had winds to 90 kts Sat AM (8/1) and was peaking in intensity positioned 1400 nmiles from the Big Island tracking west-northwest with seas 35 ft. 14-15 sec period swell was being generated expected to arrive Monday (8/3). Guillermo is expected to continue on this heading while slowly weakening fading below hurricane strength Tuesday AM (8/4) 350 nmiles east-southeast of the island of Hawaii with winds 60 kts still generating swell, and then pushing just 60 nmiles north of the Big Island Thurs AM (8/6) with winds 40 kts (tropical storm force) and fading. The GFS model has Guillermo tracking just north of all the islands on a west-northwest heading and just northwest of Kauai on Sat AM (8/8). Continued northeast windswell to result for exposed breaks on all islands if this plays out as forecast. 

Swell on the East Shore of Oahu is possible starting Mon (8/3) building to 4.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (6 ft). swell to hold Tues (8/4) at 4.3 ft @ 12-13 secs (5.0-5.5 ft). more to follow depending on Guillermo's track.

Tropical Storm Soudelor was developing well east-northeast of Guam on Sat AM (8/10 with winds 40 kts on a westerly track. It is to build to typhoon strength Sat PM (8/1) while holding the current heading and strengthening. This system is to peak on Monday evening (8/3) with winds 120 kts positioned 800 nmiles south of Southern Japan still heading west-northwest. A slow fade is forecast with this system 450 nmiles west of Taiwan on Wed PM (8/5) with winds still 100 kts. The GFS model predicts this system will continue on a west-northwest track passing just north of northern Taiwan late Thurs (8/7) with no recuravture to the northeast expected.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (8/1) high pressure at 1026 mbs was pushing into British Columbia generating a weak gradient and northwest winds at 15-20 kts over the Pacific Northwest with an weak wind flow over all of California. More of the same is forecast Sunday but with north winds 15-20 kts over Pt Conception holding into Monday and Tuesday. High pressure is to return on Wed (8/5) over the north end of the state with north winds there 20-25 kts pushing near 30 kts late Thursday then fading from 25 kts Friday and dissipating Saturday. An eddy flow to develop for Central CA Fri-Sat (8/8).  

   

South Pacific

Jetstream
On Saturday AM (8/1) the jetstream was well split with the southern branch tracking east-southeast from a point well south of Tasmania and ridging south to 72S tracking into Antarctica at 140W then rebounding some but still never reaching north of Antarctic Ice, even 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 24S latitude line with one imbedded pocket of 160 kt winds near the dateline, then fading while holding an eastward heading the whole way to Chile. No support for gale formation in lower levels of the atmosphere were indicated. Over the next 72 hours the ridge in the southern branch of the jet is to only build and retrograde west with it's maximum starting south of New Zealand on Mon (8/3) but a trough trying to build under Tasmania at that time. Winds pushing north in that trough are forecast at only 90 kts offering a little support for gale development targeting the Tasman Sea. But even that little trough is to moderate 24 hours later. Beyond 72 hours the Tasman Sea trough is to hold but the ridging pattern just east of there is to hold starting under New Zealand and get reinforced by Friday (8/7) and continuing in some fashion east of there the whole way under South America. The Tasman Sea trough is to try and push east barely making it to a point south of New Zealand later Fri (8/7) but is to quickly get undercut with the ridging pattern dominating. No support for gale development is forecast for the South Pacific.  

Surface Analysis  
On Saturday AM (8/1) high pressure at 1020 mbs was building south-southeast of New Zealand locked between the split jetstream flow and ridging south to 70S. A second high at 1036 mbs was in the Central South Pacific riding south to 60S. The combination of these two systems were preventing gale development over the core of the South Pacific. Swell from a gale previously in the far Southeast Pacific on Mon (7/27) was tracking north (see Southeast Pacific Gale below). Swell from a second gale that developed in the same location Wed AM (7/29) was also tracking northeast (see Second Southeast Pacific gale below).  

Over the next 72 hours the high pressure pattern is to hold offering no opportunity for swell producing fetch of interest to get established.


Southeast Pacific Gale
On Sun PM (7/26) a gale started building in the far Southeast Pacific with pressure 972 mbs and winds building from the southwest at 40 kts with seas building from 28 ft at 56S 138W. Fetch was fading from 35-40 kts Mon AM (7/27) aimed northeast with seas peaking at 29 ft at 54S 126W targeting Peru and Northern Chile with sideband energy into California. This system was gone after that.

Swell arrival in Southern California targeted for Mon (8/3) late with swell reaching 1.6 ft @ 18-19 secs (2.5 ft and likely overstated).  Swell to peak Tues (8/4) near 11 AM at 2.0 ft @ 17 secs (3.5 ft), continuing on Wed (8/5) at 2.2 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.5 ft) early.  Swell Direction: 185 degrees.

Swell arrival in Northern California targeted for Tues (8/4) pushing 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) late. Swell continuing on Wed (8/5) at 1.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) early. Swell fading Thurs (8/6) from 1.3 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft).  Swell Direction: 183 degrees.

 

Second Southeast Pacific Gale
Another gale formed in the extreme Southeast Pacific Tues PM (7/28) generating a small fetch of 45 kt southwest winds pushing northeast and starting to get traction on the oceans surface. By Wed AM (7/29) those winds stalled holding at 35 kts over a larger area aimed due north generating 28 ft seas at 52S 126W targeting mainly Southern California. In the evening fetch is to be shrinking and tracking east at 35 kt from the south with 25 ft seas fading at 50S 118W aimed well to the northeast. That fetch is to fade Thurs AM (7/30) and outside of the SCal swell window. Another small pulse of swell is possible for Southern CA down into Mexico and Peru.

Swell arrival in SCal is possible late Wed (8/5) with minimal size and period 18 secs peaking on Thurs (8/6) with swell 2 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (8/7) from 2 ft @ 14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft) Swell Direction: 185 degrees 

Swell arrival in NCal is possible late Thurs (8/6) with swell building to 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (8/7) from 1.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.5 ft). Residuals fading Sat (8/8) from 1.5 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft). Swell Direction: 183 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 high pressure is to return off the Oregon Coast on Wed (8/5) with the gradient over North California rebuilding and north winds back to 20-25 kts, possibly generating new north windswell. Theoretically that gradient is to build to near 30 kts late Thursday then fading some to 25 kts on Friday (8/7) and dropping to 20 kts on Saturday. Windswell to vary commensurate with wind velocities in the gradient. Relative to Hawaii trades to return covering a good sized area east of the Islands after the immediate passage of Guillermo holding at 15+ kts into at least Sat (7/8) likely resulting in more east windswell at exposed breaks.  

MJO/ENSO Update
Note: 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. 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. 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).

(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) As of Saturday (8/1) the daily SOI was rising some at -22.40. The 30 day average was holding at -13.22 and the 90 day average was falling from -13.02. The near term trend based on the daily average was indicative of a steady state Active Phase of the MJO (though no Active Phase was present. In reality it is a clear sign of the building El Nino base state). The 30 day SOI has rebounded some from it's lowest in years reached on 7/18/15 at -20.49. The longer term pattern was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO or a slowly building El Nino base state. High pressure at 1024 mbs was fading over Southeast Australia and tracking east out of the picture with lower pressure south of Tahiti. Some variant of this pattern is to hold through the week, effectively unchanged but with high pressure slowly and steadily building over Southeast Australia. the net results is to be a steady negative SOI, indicative of a building El Nino. Of note: south winds are to start building at the surface next weekend along the East Australian Coast at 10-15 kts, likely adding to the Southern Hemi Booster index. Southeast wind anomalies have been building in this region off and on for weeks now. the net results is to be perhaps a slightly rising SOI over the weekend then diving negative early next week. We've seen mixed evidence of a high pressure regime over Northeast Australia that would aid the Southern Hemi Booster Index (and therefore supercharge the developing El Nino). The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.

Current equatorial surface wind analysis per 850 mb charts (~4,500 ft up) indicated modest west anomalies in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) fading to weak on the dateline and neutral south of Hawaii, eventually turning light east south of Mexico and neutral into the Galapagos. These west anomalies are the result of the interaction of an El Nino base state and an equatorial Rossby Wave. These anomalies have remained virtually unchanged for the past 14 days and followed a very strong WWB burst that was associated with a robust Active Phase of the MJO (historically strong) 6/24-7/17. Down at the surface the TOA array (hard sensors reporting with a 24 hr lag) indicated a stronger picture with strong west winds (not anomalies) at 170E in the core of the KWGA with strong west anomalies from 155E-the dateline, then fading to 165W. This continues impressive, and is attributable again the Rossby Wave occurring near the dateline. A week from now (8/9) weak to modest west anomalies are to be in the east Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) fading to neutral on the dateline and then weak to modest easterly south of Hawaii to a point south of Baja, then neutral on into the Galapagos Islands.

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, 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. A moderate westerly anomaly flow redeveloped thereafter until 7/29 when a Rossby Wave enhanced the westerly flow, developing a mini-WWB at 175E expected to hold till 8/3, then fade. The major June-July WWB effectively held for 26 days and is to result in a strong Kelvin Wave. Still more westerly anomalies are needed into Sept if a strong El Nino is to develop.  The CFSv2 model calls for non-stop westerly anomalies at least into 8/23, the likely result of a developing El Nino base state and occasionally enhanced for short periods of time by equatorial Rossby Waves. The next active Phase of the MJO is forecast mid-Sept into late Oct.  

See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here.

The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 7/31 indicate a dead neutral MJO signal over the entire equatorial Pacific. The Statistic model suggests this pattern is to hold for the next 15 days. The Dynamic model is onboard with that prognosis until 10 days out, when the Active Phase of the MJO is to start developing. Phase Diagrams from the ECMF and GEFS suggest the Active Phase of the MJO is collapsed but might redevelop over the Maritime Continent to the far West Pacific 12+ days out. The 40 day upper level model depicts a weak non-descript MJO pattern in play and not expected to change thru Sept 10. As of right now, there are no signs of the upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave lifecycle. Instead a pause in warm water upwelling is occurring in the East Pacific while the next Kelvin Wave prepares to erupt, poised just below the surface. And major amounts of warm water are already in motion and falling to depth on the equator and will continue for the next few weeks courtesy of the large WWB that started late June into mid-July with additional westerly anomalies behind that occurring up to today and forecast to continue beyond. Just the same, a well entrenched westerly wind anomaly pattern is required during the Aug-Sept timeframe if something that wants to rival the '97 El Nino is to develop. But that seems much in doubt now (more below). For right now the models seem pretty well consolidated on a continuation of westerly anomalies No easterly anomalies are forecast. Still, we'll remain cautious. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.    

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.  

As of the most recent low-res imagery (7/30) first impressions continue indicating a moderate and well defined El Nino pattern in-place and building over the entire equatorial Pacific. It's solid for late-July. But compared to previous imagery, the pattern is loosing energy. If anything, there has been no increase in concentration of warm waters and if anything, the entire pattern looks less defined. And if one is to make a direct comparison to '97 at this same time, there is no comparison. 97 imagery leaves this years event in the dust. This is not unexpected given the freight train consistency of Westerly Wind bursts leading up to the '97 event. Comparatively '15 is building, but at a slower pace and with less vigor. Total coverage of warm waters as of the 7/30 imagery still remains respectable, just not in the league of '97. Temperatures in the NINO1.2 region do not appear to be getting warmer, and if anything are getting a little cooler. Along the West African Coast, cool water continues there, building some over the past 10 days. Very warm water continues off the US West Coast, unrelated to this years El Nino, but possibly attributable to the building Active State of the PDO. So for now the low res-data suggest a bit of a downgrade compared to previous expectations. The big issue currently is the apparent drop-off of NINO 1.2 water temps, likely the result of a pause in upwelling of warm water in that region. Still, there appears to be plenty of water poised in the subsurface reservoir to upwell. Still our suspicions are that weaknesses in this years event are to continue over time compared to '97, mainly due to the comparative weakness in terms of duration of the WWBs earlier this year compared to 97. But with the strength of the most recent WWB (late June), maybe some of that ground will be made up in October when the resulting Kelvin wave hits. But we're convinced this event will not reach or eclipse '97. .    

TAO data indicates +1.5 anomalies are in control over the entire equatorial Pacific, the warmest in years, presumably advecting west from the Galapagos covering the entire area west to the dateline. There is an embedded area of +2.0-2.5 deg anomalies expanding from the Galapagos to 142W (an increase from last update) with +1.5 deg anomalies reach to 180W (holding). Overall the warm water signature continues to grow.    

The most recent hi-res data (7/31) indicates we are past the peak temps experienced between the Galapagos and Ecuador on 7/14. Warm anomalies are holding along the immediate coast of Northern Chile up into Peru and the Galapagos but have faded between there and the Galapagos between 7/14-7/30. This is reflected in the low res imagery too (see above). In the hi res imagery pockets of less than +2.25 degs anomalies have developed between the Galapagos and the Ecuador coast. where on the 7/22 imagery the anomalies exceeding 2.25 degrees were continuous there. But this situation is not getting any worse and as of the 7/31 imagery, some rebuilding of +2.25 anomalies seems to be occurring. A peak station reading at the Galapagos occurred on 5/23 at +4.59 degs suggesting the first Kelvin Wave generated in Jan-Mar had maxed out, 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. Since then a steady fade has set in, down to +3.1 degs as of 7/31. This is interesting because much more warm water is poised at depth just off Ecuador (see below). Given the current pause in warming near the Galapagos, no additional expansion of the warm pool is expected. This is not consistent with what one would expect if a significant El Nino were in play and further solidifies the thesis that this years event will not reach or eclipse '97. The CDAS Nino 1+2 index is rebuilding some today, now up to 2.4 degs. It was hovered at +2.1 degrees since late May then spiked reaching +3.0 degs on 7/3, faded then spiked again on 7/13 at +3.0 degs and yet again on 7/22. It fell to +1.9 degrees on 7/27 and is now rebuilding. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index is on the decline too today, down to+1.35 degrees. Water temps there had held in the +1.0-1.3 deg range since mid-April, then started building pushing +1.5 degs on 6/30 and generally held there while creeping up, peaking at +1.75 degs on 7/19 and +1.7 degs on 7/29.  Hi-res satellite images clearly depict unbroken +2.25 degs anomalies have encroached westward from the Galapagos to 133W as of 7/16 and then 138W today (7/31. Given the current at least temporary cooling in the NINO1.2 region, this might eventually advect west and impact NINO 3.4. This is the exact opposite of what is required.  

Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator under the dateline (160-180W) are rebuilding extremely fast with +2.0 degs anomalies fully bulging from the dateline eastward and +4 deg anomalies taking root from 148W eastward, the direct effects of the July massive WWB. Warmer water is also tracking east reinforcing a large warm reservoir at +5-6 deg above normal erupting into Ecuador. So the pipe is open with more warm water rushing in and more poised to erupt into the Galapagos. The reservoir is holding coverage with +5 degs anomalies centered at 110W with +5 deg anomalies pushing east from 132W to Ecuador, a significant expansion in the past week, which was an expansion from the previous update.  This pocket is a mixture of warm water driven by an extended WWB that occurred Jan-March plus water from an additional WWB in early May. This suggests there 2-3 months of warm water in this reservoir (till Sept 10). And more warm water continues downwelling on the dateline. The current Kelvin Wave impacting the East Pacific has already peaked (earlier than the Aug 1 date we targeted), with a pause between Kelvin Waves occurring now, and with a third starting to build now, possibly impacting the Galapagos on 10/2. This is still a great setup.  

This is similar to how the '97 El Nino played out, with not individual Kelvin Waves impacting the coast and then falling into an upwelling period, but a huge pool of warm water developing at this time of year in the East Pacific creating continuous upwelling of warm water off Ecuador, with continuous westerly anomalies in the KWGA feeding yet more warm water into that subsurface pool for 6+months. But the veracity of this years WWBs and Kelvin waves have not been on par with the 97 event. Still, we appear to be on track for a solid El Nino event. .

Satellite data from 7/27 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over the entire equatorial Pacific starting at 175E with a core at +10 cm from 170W eastward and a building pocket of 15 cm anomalies at 110-1450W (expanding). All this is indicative of a wide open pipe with embedded and merging Kelvin Waves combining into a large subsurface reservoir. This is a classic major El Nino setup, not a standard El Nino. 

The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (7/27) indicates +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies are tracking east between 178E and the Ecuador coast (easing east). +1.0-1.5 degs are from 172W eastward. +1.5 deg anomalies are doing the same easing east from 168W. All theses sectors are sliding east slightly (suggesting the downwelling warm water falling into the developing Kelvin Wave have peaked). And a pocket of +2.0 degs anomalies are at 155W-115W (expanding). A pocket of cooler 0.5-1.0 degs anomalies has developed just off Ecuador from 91W-80W. A Kelvin Wave impacted the Ecuador Coast in May-June and a second one impacted it in June. And now a third is setting up. The pause in warming near Ecuador is evident in this chart, suggestive of nothing more than a break between successive strong Kelvin Waves. There is no indication of a proper Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle. This is a very good sign with yet more westerly anomalies holding on the dateline. See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here

Pacific Counter Current data as of 8/1 continues solid but not super impressive. The current is pushing strongly west to east over the west equatorial Pacific filling the Kelvin Wave Generation Area reaching to 160W with modest current continuing east from there to 135W then fading to weak. A pocket of strong east anomalies were over the immediate Galapagos. Most of this energy was on and north of the equator. Anomaly wise - moderate to strong west anomalies pockets were spread on the equator over the West Pacific with the strongest reaching east to 140W then dissipating. Easterly anomalies were in one pocket over the Galapagos. Compared to the '97 El Nino at this time, there is no comparison. In '97 west velocities were strong in the far West Pacific from 150W-130E with anomalies strong from 150E to 150W on both sides of the equator. Suspect all this data is heavily influenced by local wind, and therefore WWBs. Still, the data suggests there was more and larger WWBs in '97. 

Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model (PDF Corrected) run 8/1 for the Nino 3.4 region have backed off a little more. It suggests water temps are at +1.6 deg C (verified at 1.4 degs) and are to steadily warm continuing to +2.00 degs by Oct peaking at +2.05 degs by late Nov, then dropping off. interestingly, the latest 8 members of the ensemble area all now suggesting peak temps down around +1.8, presumably the result of the cooling now taking place off Ecuador. This suggests our previous prognosis of a strong El Nino might be a bit premature. still any immediate thought that the Inactive Phase of the MJO could somehow usher in the Upwelling Phase of the Kelvin wave Cycle seem remote at best at this time. Still much more warm water is needed to be transported east over the coming 3.5 months for a Super El Nino to develop (including surface warm water currently locked over the dateline). The mid-July consensus Plume suggests development of a strong El Nino with peak temps (depending on model type) spread between 1.5-2.0 degs above normal. See the chart based version here - link. 

Also see the CFS 3 month forecast for 850 mb winds and MJO with analysis here

Recirculation Theory here New! (7/15/15) just for fun.  

Analysis: In late 2013 into 2014 multiple downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino until Feb 2015, and then very weak at that. Those were in effect primers to help move the atmosphere out of a perpetual La Nina biased pattern that had been in play for the past 15 years. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere was in play with some greater force dictating the change from a cool regime to warmer pattern (likely the PDO). The focus now becomes whether this warming and teleconnection will persist if not strengthen in 2015. Water temps in the Nino 1.2 region have been warming solidly through July due to the arrival of the first of two Kelvin Wave (see details above) and advecting west over the entire equatorial Pacific into the Nino 3.4 region. Water temp anomalies there are well within El Nino parameters.  Westerly anomalies, which stalled for 8 days in mid-June due to the passage of the Inactive Phase of the MJO, raged at WWB strength in late June into mid-July and are forecast to hold at something less than WWB strength for the foreseeable future. There are no concerns about a possible appearance of the cool upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle at this time. A large warm reservoir lodged just west of the Galapagos has paused eruption now, but is expected to resume shortly being fed by more warm water moving east (third Kelvin Wave). At this point we believe warming in the equatorial Pacific has started the classic El Nino feedback loop, evidenced by cooling temps off Africa and Australia, and solid North Pacific jetstream pattern (through that has stalled some too recently).  

A simple glance a the SST Anomaly charts suggest a well developed El nino pattern is in play. The hot topic then becomes how strong this developing El Nino will become. And that is purely a function of the strength and duration of westerly anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. We survived the June Inactive Phase of the MJO with no easterly anomalies developing (and in reality, no trades at all). And it appears an evolving El Nino base state is building. which should dampen any future Inactive Phases of the MJO cycle. This is required for a major El Nino to develop. On cue a major WWB developed late June/early July which is feeding development of another Kelvin Wave and should only enhance the base El Nino state more. At the same time we are monitoring a pause in warming in the Nino 1.2 region and previously erupted warm waters advecting into the Nino3.4 region. the concern is that cooler water developing off Ecuador will eventually advect into NIno3.4.

As things currently stand, we have crossed over the El Nino threshold. We are currently in the Inactive Phase of the MJO cycle, and yet with the help of an El Nino base state and a Rossby Wave, westerly anomalies have persisted, and briskly. But there is still 6 weeks till the next Active Phase of the MJO is forecast to develop (though the Dynamic OLR Model suggest that might occur sooner). The hope is this Inactive Phase will be a non-event, much like the mid-June one. If so then a significant El Nino event would become more likely. But if somehow it shuts down westerly anomalies, and a upwelling Phase of the Kelvin Wave cycle develops (note cooler water temps along Ecuador happening now - see above) all bets are off. But the odds of shutting down the Kelvin Wave cycle seem remote, given the rapid expansion of subsurface warm waters currently occurring now under the dateline now. At best a pause in warming will occur, with some decrease in Nino34 temp before warming resumes. Assuming that does not happen, how will this years event be compare to '97 or '82?  A wild guess says somewhere between the two. We're not seeing the strength and duration of westerly anomalies this year as compared to '97 (see analysis here). But the latest WWB could help nudge this years event towards a stronger status. Conversely the '82 event didn't even really get going till the June-July timeframe. We're way ahead of that, but not seeing the vigor of '97 now or anytime in the past. Interestingly, the amount of warm water in play on the equator at the start of this year (the results of 2014's failed El Nino bid) actually gave us a starting base state well ahead of '97 (and likely some atmospheric bias in favor of El Nino), somewhat negating concerns about weaker WWBs this year. Still we're guessing we're somewhere between the 82' and '97 event, with very good atmospheric momentum in play, and that's a good place to be unless you own beach front property in California.          

We continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming of East Pacific equatorial waters for Sept-Dec 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the  El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13 

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a gale is forecast developing east of New Zealand falling directly south with seas building to 38 ft at 47S 168W, but targeting only Antarctica. Otherwise no swell production is forecast for the greater South Pacific.

Details to follow...

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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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