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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Friday, February 1, 2019 2:08 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
3.0 - California & 3.2 - 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 2/4 thru Sun 2/10

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   

3 W. Pac Swells In the Water
Stronger Storm Forecast

On Friday, February 1, 2019 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/ Buoy 239 (Lanai): At Barbers Point (238) seas were 3.3 ft @ 11.8 secs with swell 0.8 ft @ 20.4 secs from 307 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 11.9 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 8.5 ft @ 10.4 secs from 23 degrees and 5.1 ft @ 15.1 sec from 320 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 2.3 ft @ 13.0 secs from 257 degrees. Wind at the buoy was southeast at 6-8 kts. Water temperature 60.3 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 2.0 ft @ 11.1 secs from 269 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.6 ft @ 15.0 secs from 252 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.8 ft @ 13.6 secs from 258 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 2.2 ft @ 14.6 secs from 266 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.2 ft @ 20.0 secs with swell 4.1 ft @ 20.4 secs from 295 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was south at 6-8 kts. Water temp 56.6 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.

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

Current Conditions
On Friday (2/1) in North and Central CA new dateline swell as starting to show with waves 1-2 ft overhead and lined up though a little slow and clean with light southeast winds early. Protected breaks were chest high and clean and lined up but inconsistent. At Santa Cruz surf was maybe waist high on the sets and getting pretty warbled from light southeast wind. In Southern California/Ventura surf was thigh to maybe waist high and clean and lined up but weak. In North Orange Co surf was chest high on the sets and clean and lined up but soft and inconsistent. South Orange Country's best summertime breaks were thigh to waist high on the sets and clean and weak. North San Diego surf was waist high and clean and lined up with light offshore winds. Hawaii's North Shore was still a blown out with northeast windswell producing overriding swell from over the dateline and waves in the 2-3 ft overhead range and lumpy and warbled and chopped from northerly wind. The South Shore was knee to thigh high and clean. The East Shore was getting northerly windswell with waves double overhead and chopped from northeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Friday (2/1) swell was fading some in Hawaii and just starting to hit California from a fairly strong system that developed off Japan tracking northeast on Sun (1/27) with 41 ft seas aimed east initially then moved to the north dateline region Mon (1/28) with up to 44 ft seas aimed east. And another small system tracking pretty far south off Japan Tues-Wed (1/30) with 28-32 ft seas then faded on the dateline on Thurs (1/31). But both these systems were generally small in coverage. Sat-Sun (2/3) an ill formed gale is to track off the kuril ISlands producing 28-30 ft seas aimed east offering maybe little swell mainly for Hawaii. Then later Mon (2/4) a storm is to build off the Kuril Islands tracking east with seas 50-52 ft aimed east. And another is to be right behind Thurs-Fri (2/8) pushing towards the Northern Dateline with up to 53 ft sea pushing east. The Active Phase of the MJO is to be building in the West Pacific feeding the storm track. Make hay while the sun shines.

See all the details below...


Current marine weather and wave analysis plus forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

On Friday AM (1/30) the jetstream was consolidated tracking off Japan with winds 190 kts producing a gentle trough mainly over the Kuril Islands offering support for gale development with the jet reaching east to the dateline then splitting with the northern branch very ill formed but generally undulating east with a steep trough imbedded off the Pacific Northwest offering the potential for weather relative to the US West Coast and the southern branch generally pushing southeast and splitting with some energy reaching into Southern CA and the rest pushing towards the equator. Over the next 72 hours the trough over the Kurils is to push east as winds in the jet slowly weaken with the trough reaching near the dateline on Sun (2/3) still offering some support for gale development while the split point moves east some to 170W. The trough off the US West Coast is to move inland over North CA on Sun (2/3) while being reinforced by a secondary and tertiary troughs also developing off the US West Coast and moving inland over Oregon Mon-Tues (2/5) likely producing weather from Central CA northward. Another small trough is also forecast developing on the dateline Sun (2/3) lifting northeast and moving over the Northern Dateline region on early Tues (2/5) supportive of gale development. Beyond 72 hours starting late Tues (2/5) into Wed (2/6) wind energy is to start rebuilding over Japan and to the dateline at 180-190 kts starting to carve out a new trough off the Kuril Islands moving tot he North Dateline region early Thurs (2/7) possibly supporting gale development. 180 hours out the jet is to be pretty weak with winds 120-130 kts in pockets pushing off Japan and broad but not split but not energetic either and consolidated to the dateline then splitting with the northern branch stubbed off not even making it to the Gulf of Alaska and the southern branch tracking southeast over Hawaii and then turning east pushing in the Central Baja. Once would thing the Active Phase of the MJO might positively influence the jetstream. But at the same time, the underpinnings of what was to be El Nino are fading. Suspect the fading El Nino might have a greater influence.

Surface Analysis
On Friday (2/1) swell from a storm previously in the West Pacific was hitting Hawaii and starting to show in north California (see Stronger West Pacific Storm below). And behind that small swell was radiating east from a small gale that tracked off Japan (see Small West Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours another fast moving system pushed off Japan tracking northeast starting Fri AM (2/1) with 40 kt west winds and seas 27 ft over a small area at 39N 165E aimed east. In the evening wind energy is to be building from the west off streaming off the Kuril Islands at 35-40 kts with 29 ft seas building at 39N 160E aimed east. On Sat AM (2/2) west fetch to hold at 30-35 kts over a broad area off the Kuril Islands with 28-29 ft seas over a broad area centered near 40N 160E aimed east. In the evening winds to fade from 30+ kts and seas fading from 26 ft at 35N 168E aimed east.

Hawaii: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Mon (2/4) building to 3.2 ft @ 16 secs late (5.0 ft). Swell fading Tues (2/5) from 3.1 ft @ 14-15 secs (4.5 ft) early. Secondary energy building in late at 4.6 ft @ 16-17 secs (7.5 ft). Swell fading Wed (2/6) from 4.5 ft @ 15 secs early (6.5 ft). Swell Direction: 310 degrees

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Wed (2/26) at 5.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (8.0 ft). Swell Direction: 297 degrees


Stronger West Pacific Storm
Another southward displaced storm developed off Japan on Sun AM (1/27) with 50-55 kt northwest winds over a small area and seas 41 ft at 34.5N 159.5E aimed east. In the evening the storm was building while lifting northeast with 50 kt northwest winds increasing in coverage approaching the dateline with seas 40 ft at 36.5N 167.5E aimed east. The storm lifted northeast over the dateline Mon AM (1/28) with 50 kt northwest winds and seas rebuilding from 40 ft at 41.5N 170E aimed east. In the evening this system held position approaching the the dateline producing 45 kt northwest winds south of the Aleutians with seas building to 44 ft at 18Z at 44N 172.5E aimed east then down to 42 ft in the evening at 44.5N 175.5E. Fetch to be fading Tues AM (1/29) from 35-40 kts with seas fading from 35 ft over a small area embedded in a broad area of 30+ ft seas at 44N 175.5E aimed east. In the evening the gale to dissipate with west winds fading from 30-35 kts and seas 28 ft at 45N 179W aimed east. Solid swell to be radiating southeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Swell fading on Fri AM (2/1) from 4.8 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.0-7.5 ft) and intermixed with local northeast windswell. Dribbles on Sat (2/2) fading from 2.0 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 310-315 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (2/1) building to 5.3 ft @ 18 secs late (9.5 ft). Swell steady on Sat (2/2) at 5.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (9.5 ft) but being overrun by local north windswell. Swell Direction: 290-298 degrees


Small West Pacific Gale
Yet another
small gale started building off Japan on Tues AM (1/29) tracking east with 40-45 kt northwest winds and seas 23 ft at 35N 149E aimed southeast. In the evening the gale tracked southeast with 40 kt north-northwest winds and seas 30 ft at 34N 154E aimed southeast. The gale continued east Wed AM (1/30) with 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft near 35N 162E aimed southeast at Hawaii. In the evening the gale lifted northeast producing 35-40 kt northwest winds and seas 30 ft at 33N 175E aimed southeast. The gale started dissipating while lifting north fast Thurs AM (1/31) with 35 kt west winds with seas 27 ft approaching the dateline at 39N 174E aimed east. The gale faded from there.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival late on Sat (2/2) with swell building to 4.3 ft @ 17 secs (7.0 ft). Swell fading Sun (2/3) from 4.2 ft @ 15 secs (6.0 ft) early. Residuals on Mon (2/4) fading from 3.2 ft @ 13-14 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 307 degrees

North CA: Swell arrival late Mon (2/4) building to 2.8 ft @ 17 secs (4.5 ft) and buried in local windswell. Swell continues on Tues (2/5) at 4.6 ft @ 15-16 secs (7.0 ft) and still intermixed with local windswell. Swell Direction: 288 degrees


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


Tropical Update
No tropical weather systems of interest are forecast.

California Nearshore Forecast
On Friday (2/1) a reasonably robust double barrelled local low pressure system was setting up with one low up off the Pacific Northwest and the other off Central CA with south winds for North CA 15-20 kts early building to 30+ kts late afternoon and south winds 10 kts for Central CA early building to 40+ kts into the later evening. Light south winds 5-10 kts for Southern CA later in the day. Light rain Fri AM (2/1) for North CA building south to Pt Conception late afternoon and steadily increasing through the evening. Light snow for higher elevations of the Sierra Friday late evening. Solid low pressure is to not move onshore but be holding off Bodega Bay Sat AM (2/2) with south winds 25+ kts early for Monterey Bay north to Pt Arena and southeast north of there and southwest winds 25-35 kts for Morro Bay south into San Diego. The low is to hold still circulating off the coast of San Francisco through the day with south winds 30-35 kts from Morro Bay north to Bodega Bay at sunset and west winds 15+ kts down into Southern CA. Solid rain early for Central CA and moderate for North CA and light rain developing for Southern CA early and steady through the day but building to heavy rain for Southern CA mid day into the early evening. Heavy snow for the entire Sierra et as the low moves fully onshore there. Steady scattered rain for the entire CA coast through the day into the evening. Moderate snow early for the Sierra but turning heavy by 8 AM and holding through the day, fading some in the evening. Sun (2/3) the main low is to move onshore over Monterey Bay early while a secondary low pressure is to be moving south off Oregon and North CA waters early moving over North CA later with west winds 10-15 kts for all of North of Central CA early and west 5-10 kts for Southern CA early building from the west to 15-20 kts for all of North and Central Ca later. San Francisco northward early and building south to Monterey Bay later. Steady light rain for all of North and Central CA building to moderate rain early evening for North CA. Light snow for Tahoe early Sun AM but moderate for the Central and South Sierra early and fading through the day but rebuilding to moderate amounts for Tahoe in the evening. Monday (3/4) another low pressure system is to be moving onshore over the Oregon-CA border with west to southwest winds 15+ kts for all of North or Central CA and light winds early for Southern CA. Light steady rain for all of CA holding through the day. Moderate snow for all the Sierra holding through the day and evening. Snow along the coast for Cape Mendocino. Tuesday (4/5) low pressure is to be over the North CA coast early with north to northwest winds 15 kts all day for North CA and 20 kts for Central CA but light for Southern CA. Light rain early for all of CA fading into the early evening. Moderate snow all day for the Sierra. Wednesday (2/6) high pressure takes control with a north to northwest winds 15 kts for North and Central CA and light in SCal. Thurs (2/7) northwest winds 10-15 kts for North and Central CA. Friday (2/8) north winds 5 kts through the day. No precip forecast.

Total snow accumulation for for the week for Lake Tahoe (thru 2/4): 76-86 inches and 60 inches for Mammoth.

Snow Models: (Scroll down for resort specific forecasts).


South Pacific

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




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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours a stronger and more organized storm is to form just off the Kuril Islands Mon PM (2/4) with 60 kt west winds and seas building from 44 ft at 44.5N 155E aimed east. On Tues AM (2/5) the storm is to track east with 55 kts west winds and seas to 53 ft at 45N 164E aimed east. In the evening the storm is to track east with 50 kt northwest winds and seas 50 ft over a solid area aimed east at 45N 170E. The storm is to drop to gale status Wed AM (2/6) with fetch lifting north towards the North Dateline region with 45 kt west winds over a solid area just south of the Aleutians and 47 ft seas at 45.5N 178.5E aimed east. Fetch to be fading over the North Dateline region in the evening from 40 kts from the northwest with seas fading from 38 ft at 45.5N 177.5W aimed east. The gale is to dissipate from there.

Another smaller but solid storm is forecast developing mid-way between Japan and the dateline Wed PM (2/6) with 50+ kt west winds over a small area and seas building from 28 ft at 38N 160E aimed east. On Thurs AM (2/7) the storm is to have 60 kt west winds lifting northeast with seas building to 43 ft at 41.5N 166E aimed east. In the evening the storm is to be tracking northeast with 50 kt west winds and seas building to 53 ft at 44N 177E aimed east. On Fri AM (2/8) the storm is to be fading over the North Dateline region with 50 kt west winds just south of the Central Aleutians with seas 47 ft at 48.5N 176W aimed east. Something to monitor.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Active MJO Building - SSTs Building in E Pacific - Atmospheric Indices Neutral

The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equator it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slackening if not an outright reversing trade winds while enhancing precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the planet, though most noticeable in the Pacific. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. Prolonged and consecutive Active MJO Phases in the Pacific help support the formation of El Nino. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to split resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. Wind anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area (KWGA) are key for understanding what Phase the MJO is in over the Pacific. The KWGA is located on the equator from 135E-170W and 5 degs north and south (or on the equator from New Guinea east to the dateline). West wind anomalies in the KWGA suggest the Active Phase of the MJO in the Pacific, and east anomalies suggests the Inactive Phase. In turn the Active Phase strengthens and the Inactive Phase weakens the jetstream, which in turn enhances or dampens storm production respectively in the Pacific.The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).

Overview: La Nina started developing in early 2016, but westward displaced and generally weak. And by March 2017, it was gone with suspicious warming developing along South America and over the Galapagos to a point south of Hawaii. By May the atmosphere returned to a neutral configuration but then in July east anomalies started building in the KWGA and have not stopped, with cold water upwelling over the the Nino1.2 and 3.4 areas, indicative of La Nina. A double dip La Nina was in control and continued through the Winter of 2017-2018. But warming started building along the South and Central American coast in early March 2018 associated with two upwelling Kelvin Waves, and continued trying to build over equatorial waters over the Summer and Fall, but not enough to declare El Nino and not coupled with the atmosphere. As of January 2019, those warm waters were fading.

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

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

KWGA/Equatorial Surface Wind Analysis & Short-term Forecast:
Analysis (TAO Buoys): As of (1/31) 5 day average winds were from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to the dateline, then a weaker over the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral over the East equatorial Pacific turning solidly westerly from a point south of Hawaii and filling the entirety of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (2/1) moderate west anomalies were filling the KWGA and stronger from the dateline reaching east to Hawaii. The forecast is for the that wind pattern to remain unchanged for the next week but with west anomalies weakening to neutral in the extreme West Pacific and building from the east south of Hawaii. Support for storm development is peaking now and is to be moderating some in the West Pacific a week out.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (1/31) The Active Phase of the MJO was moderate and filling the KWGA. The statistic model indicates the Active Phase is to hold at moderate strength in the KWGA while slowly easing east centered just a bit east of the dateline at day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Active Phase fading some over the Central KWGA at day 5 and then rebuilding to moderate plus strength at day 15.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (2/1) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the West Pacific. It is to fade in strength and stalled in the West Pacific at day 9 then tracking east and over the Atlantic at day 15. The GEFS model suggests the Active Phase is in the West Pacific and is to weaken over the next 4 days then retrograding and rebuilding in the West Pacific at days 8-15 and moderately strong at day 15 in the West Pacific.
40 day Upper Level Model: (2/1) This model depicts a modest Active Phase over the Central Pacific weakening and pushing east moving into and over Central America on 2/21. A modest Inactive signal is to set up in the West Pacific on 2/18 moving to the East Pacific and Central America on 3/13. A weak very weak Active Phase of the MJO is to be setting up in the West Pacific on 3/2 pushing east to the dateline on 3/13.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (1/31) This model depicts moderate plus strength west anomalies were over the KWGA reaching east to 140W with no east anomalies indicated. West anomalies are to hold for the foreseeable future from now forward in the KWGA and building to strong status 2/12-2/21 and into the California coast starting 2/19 through the end of the model run on 2/28.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (2/1) This model depicts a weak version of the Active Phase was over the KWGA with modest west anomalies in the KWGA. This pattern is to hold while easing east through 2/25 with west anomalies building solidly 2/10-2/25 to Westerly Wind Burst status. On 2/15 a modest Inactive MJO signal is to start developing in the West Pacific and filling east into the KWGA 2/25 through 3/29 but with spotty west anomalies continuing in that area. On 3/30 a strong Active Phase of the MJO is to start building in the KWGA with west anomalies strongly in control and holding through the end of the model run on 4/31. The low pass filter indicates a low pressure bias is fully in control of the KWGA centered on the dateline reaching east over California and forecast holding over California through 2/28, then retracting to the coast. A third contour line faded 12/17 and is to now rebuild starting 2/16 and holding through the end of the model run. It appears from this model that a tendency towards El Nino was previously in control, then it faded, and is now to rebuilding and strongly so. Theoretically the atmosphere and ocean were at one time trying to become coupled towards El Nino in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence that it every happened. Still this pattern is more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, because the atmosphere is still turning from a La Nina pattern (that has been entrenched for the past 2 years) at a minimum towards a neutral one. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, or perhaps slightly enhanced, but nothing more. 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: (2/1) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and retrograding (after previously reaching east to 175W on 12/11) reaching east today to 176E. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W mid-Nov, then moved east and walled up to 153W, but retrograded and is back at 162W today. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing into Ecuador 25 meters down. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific at +1 degs or greater with a pocket of warm water building under the dateline at +3 degs (Kelvin Wave #3). The remnants of Kevin Wave #2 have fully erupted in the far East Pacific with temps there only +1 degs. We think the peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred associated mainly with Kelvin Wave #2. But Kelvin Wave #3 might add some warmth moving into 2019. So there's good surface oceanic warming potential to feed jetstream core energy for the foreseeable future. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 1/28 indicates Kelvin Wave #2 fading in the East Pacific with pockets of 3 degs from 130W into Ecuador and with +3 deg anomalies building in the west from New Guinea to the dateline (Kelvin Wave #3 attributable to a Westerly Wind Burst occurring there 12/30-1/16). +1-2 degs anomalies connect the 2 Kelvin Waves making a river of 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: (1/28) Positive anomalies were fading from the interior Maritime Continent but were solid tracking east from 160E over the dateline to a point west of the Galapagos (110W) at mostly 0-5 cms but with a pocket of +5 cms anomalies over the dateline. -5 cms anomalies were in a small pocket at 90W associated with the upwelling phase of the Kelvin Wave Cycle. A new weak Kelvin Wave is building north of New Guinea while a previous warm subsurface pattern is fading over the east equatorial Pacific.

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: (1/31) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were very weakly warm straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from the dateline west to the Galapagos and still losing warmth compared to days and weeks past. Warm water was building strongly along the coast of Chile and Peru up into Ecuador and Central America. There is no indications that an El Nino is building and it appears a warm pulse previously underway in the East Pacific was continuing to fade today. A concerning pocket of cool waters elongated east to west off Peru to 130W is fading some. Overall the pattern looks very weakly like El Nino, but nothing more. In all this warming pattern is weak and becoming more fragile by the day.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (1/31): A building solid area of warm water was off Chile and Peru building north to Ecuador and extending west to 110W. It looks like the far equatorial East Pacific is warming some.
Hi-res Overview: (1/31) Weak warm water was along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru reaching up to the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos continuing out to 120W then weaker to the dateline. We have turned the corner from a cool regime a year ago to a warm regime now. And one could maybe think we are moving towards an El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion because the warm signal on the surface should be much stronger at this time of the year if El Nino were truly developing. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern biased warm and likely not every moving to an official minimal El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (2/1) Today's temps were rising steadily at +0.793 after falling 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:
(1/30) Today temps were steady at +0.511 after rising 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 (2/1) The model indicates temps were at +0.65 degs on Jan 1 and are forecast building to +1.00 on Feb 15 and stable for the foreseeable future if not rising some to +1.20 degs in June holding till Oct 1. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19 and even stronger in Winter of 2019/20. But given all the data we've seen, we believe there no odds of El Nino developing this year. But maybe a multiyear warming event is in progress as suggested by this model.
IRI Consensus Plume: The mid-Nov Plume depicts temps are to slowly rise from here, to +1.00 degs in November and +1.0-+1.1 degs through Feb 2019, then slowly fading to 0.71 in July. See chart here - link. There's a 90% chance of a weak El Nino developing through January.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad) (2/1): The daily index was rising today at +6.96. The 30 day average was falling some at -1.52 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was rising some at +2.65, rising through Jan1 to +4.67 then fading some after that but not much. There is no indication that El Nino is present in the atmosphere.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (2/1) The index rose to +0.30 on 1/20, but has been falling recently to -0.18 today, up from -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 -0.42, Sept -0.42. This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO, even with La Nina, because the warm PDO appears to be dampening the effects of La Nina. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): June 2017 +0.79, July +0.10, Aug +0.09, Sept +0.32, Oct +0.05, Nov +0.15, Dec +0.50, Jan +0.70. Feb +0.37, Mar -0.05, April +0.11, May +0.11, June -0.04, July +0.11, Aug +0.18, Sept +0.09. No real negative readings have occurred since Dec 2013
The PDO turned from a 16 year negative run (Jan 98-Feb 2014) in early 2014 and has been positive ever since (other than a few months of negative readings in Fall 2016, the result of a turn towards La Nina). Looking at the long term record, it is premature to conclude that we have in-fact turned from the negative phase (La Nina 'like') to the positive phase (El Nino 'like'), but the data strongly suggests that could be a possibility. By the time it is confirmed (4-5 years out), we will be well into it.

See imagery in the ENSO Powertool 


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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Local Interest

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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