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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2021 4:09 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
4.0 - California & 1.9 - 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 3/15 thru Sun 3/21

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   

One Last Gulf Gale Circulating
Then Focus Turns South

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Thursday, March 18, 2021 : NOAA Buoys Back On-Line

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 2.1 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 0.6 ft @ 14.9 secs from 165 degrees. Water temp 75.9 degs (Pearl Harbor 233).
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 8.5 ft @ 8.3 secs with swell 5.6 ft @ 8.9 secs from 50 degrees. Water temp 75.0 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 2.5 ft @ 13.7 secs with swell 1.4 ft @ 13.6 secs from 175 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 2-4 kts. Water temperature 56.5 degs, 55.0 (Topanga 103), 55.2 degs (Long Beach 215), 57.4 (Del Mar 153). At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 1.9 ft @ 13.1 secs from 248 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.7 secs from 203 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.1 ft @ 13.7 secs from 199 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 1.5 ft @ 13.1 secs from 209 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 7.4 ft @ 6.7 secs with swell 6.2 ft @ 6.3 secs from 192 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was southeast at 21-27 kts. Water temp 51.4 (029), 50.9 degs (SF Bar) and 52.2 degs (Santa Cruz).

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 Thursday (3/18) North and Central CA had waves at knee to thigh high and mushed and mostly clean but with some sideshore south texture. Protected breaks were flat and clean. At Santa Cruz surf was knee high and clean. In Southern California/Ventura waves were flat to knee high and clean and weak. Central Orange County had set waves at near waist high and clean and the most rideable of anywhere. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were mostly flat with rare waist to chest high peaks on occasion and clean but weak. North San Diego had sets at waist high and clean and weak but rideable. Hawaii's North Shore had waves at shoulder high and pushing hard from the north and pretty warbled from east-northeast winds. The South Shore was knee to maybe thigh high on the rare set and clean. The East Shore was getting northeasterly windswell with waves 1 ft overhead and chopped from moderate northeast winds.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Thursday (3/18) California was getting next to no rideable surf. Hawaii was still getting local northeast windswell. A semi-organized gale developed while tracking west through the Central Gulf on Tues-Wed (3/17) producing 21 ft seas aimed east then started rebuilding off North CA Thurs-Fri (3/19) and forecast to produce up to 32 ft seas aimed southeast. Down south a gale developed in the upper reaches of the South Central Pacific Sun-Mon (3/15) with up to 34 ft seas aimed north. And a stronger system formed in the deep Central South Pacific Sun-Mon (3/15) producing up to 43 ft seas aimed east-northeast. And another developed pushing under New Zealand Tues-Wed (3/19) with up to 35 ft seas aimed northeast but small in coverage. A weaker but broader one was following directly Thurs (3/18) producing 29-30 ft seas aimed northeast. And maybe another broad one is projected behind that on Sun-Thurs (3/23) with 29-34 ft seas aimed northeast. The Southern Hemi is waking up.

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 Thursday (3/18) the jet was a somewhat consolidated pushing southeast off Japan with winds to 120 kts forming a weak trough over the Kuril Islands perhaps offering some limited hope for gale development there then splitting on the dateline with the northern branch ridging hard north up to and over the Central Aleutians before falling southeast again into a weak trough off the Pacific Northwest with winds building to 90 kts offering some limited support for gale development there. In all a weak pattern was indicated. Over the next 72 hours the Kuril Island trough is to build with winds feeding it reaching 140 kts on Sun AM (3/21) repositioned over the dateline offering decent support for gale development. The trough off the Pacific Northwest is to move inland on Sat (3/20) no longer offering anything. Beyond 72 hours the dateline trough is to build yet more on Mon (3/22) being fed by a healthy flow of 140 kts winds falling due south supporting gale development in the apex of the trough over the far Western Gulf of Alaska. A big ridge is to be east and west of that trough supporting high pressure only. By late Tues (3/23) the trough is to start pinching off positioned 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii no longer supporting gale formation. And 2 massive ridges are to be on either side of the trough supporting high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska and over the dateline. By Thurs (3/25) the jet is to be split pushing off Japan and then becoming well split near 160E with the northern branch tracking east through the Bering Sea and the southern branch tracking east on the 30N latitude line eventually pushing over Hawaii. No support for gale formation is forecast.

Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/18) no swell was still hitting California but swell was radiating towards the state from a gale in the Eastern Gulf (see East Gulf Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours one last tiny gale is forecast developing while falling southeast from the North Dateline region on Sun PM (3/21) producing 40 kt northwest winds over a tiny area with seas 22 ft at 43N 179W aimed southeast. The gale is to fall southeast fast on Mon AM (3/22) with 35 kt northwest winds and seas 23 ft at 40N 175W aimed southeast. The gale is to fade in the evening with 30 kt northwest winds and seas fading from 21 ft at 36N 171W aimed southeast. This system is to dissipate after that. Possibly some small swell to result for Hawaii. Something to monitor.

 

East Gulf Gale
On Tuesday AM (3/16) a gale was building in the Western Gulf with 35 kt west winds over a small area falling southeast and seas building from 20 ft at 43N 159W aimed east. In the evening fetch was fading from 30 kts in the Central Gulf with seas 20 ft at 40N 150.5W aimed southeast. On Wed AM (3/17) west winds were off North CA at 30 kts with seas 18 ft at 40N 142W aimed east-southeast. In the evening a new gale center was developing off North Oregon with northwest winds 35-40 kts and seas trying to rebuild at 21 ft at 45N 142W aimed east. On Thurs AM (3/18) northwest winds had built to 45+ kts over a decent sized area with seas 31 ft at 43N 139.5W aimed southeast. In the evening fetch is to be fading while tracking east at 35-40 kts just off Oregon with seas fading from 30 ft at 41.5N 133W aimed southeast. The gale is to be fading Fri AM (3/19) while lifting northeast with 30 kt west winds impacting Oregon and seas 22 ft at 42N 132W aimed southeast. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.

North CA: For planning purposes expect swell arrival on Fri (3/19) building to 11.5 ft @ 15 secs (17 ft) mid-day and pretty raw. Swell fading on Sat (3/20) from 8.1 ft @ 13 secs (10.5 ft). Residuals on Sun (3/21) fading from 5.0 ft @ 10 secs ( 5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 295 degrees moving to 305 degrees.

 

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

 

Tropical Update
No tropical weather system of interest were being monitored.

California Nearshore Forecast

  • Fri (3/19) southwest winds are forecast at 15 kts for Cape Mendocino early with light southwest to west winds down to the Golden Gate and northwest winds 5 kts south of there. West to northwest winds building in the afternoon at 10 kts for all of North and Central CA. Showers early in pockets around Big Sur and then north of the Golden Gate continuing through the day. Snow early for all the Sierra fading in intensity through the day but holding through the evening.
  • Sat (3/20) light northwest winds 5 kts early for North CA and 15 kts for Central CA south of Monterey Bay building in the afternoon to 15+ kts in the North and to 20+ kts south of Monterey Bay in the afternoon. Rain isolated to Cape Mendocino mainly early. Snow showers forecast for the Sierra through the day fading at sunset.
  • Sun (3/21) northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts all day for North and Central CA. No precip forecast with clearing high pressure in control.
  • Mon (3/22) northwest winds 20-25 kts all day for North and Central CA except Cape Mendocino with 10 kt northwest winds. Rain for Cape Mendocino mostly before noon.
  • Tues (3/23) northwest winds continue at 20-25 kts for North and Central CA.
  • Wed (3/24) northwest winds are forecast at 20-25 kts for North CA and 10-15 kts fort Central CA early holding all day.
  • Thurs (3/25) northwest winds are forecast at 20 kts all day for North and Central CA.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 26 inches, 26 inches, 24 inches, and 5 inches isolated to 3/19.

Freezing level to 7,000 ft on 3/18 falling to 3,000 ft on 3/20 then starting a steady warming trend with freezing level reaching 10,000 ft on 3/24, falling to 4,000 ft on 3/26 then rising to 11,000-12,000 ft 3/27 and and holding there.

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

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis
On Thursday (3/18)
swell was fading in North CA from a gale that developed previously in the Southeast Pacific (see Small Southeast Pacific Gale below).

Over the next 72 hours swell is to be radiating north from a gale that previously formed in the northern reaches of the Central South Pacific (see Central South Pacific Gale North below). And another swell is to be right behind associated with a gale the built just off the Ross Ice Shelf in the Central South Pacific (See Ross Ice Shelf Storm below). And yet another swell was behind that radiating northeast from a gale that previously tracked northeast from under New Zealand (see Small New Zealand Gale below).

And starting Thurs AM (3/18) a broad gale was developing south of New Zealand producing 35-40 kt southwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 60S 170E aimed east-northeast. In the evening 35 kt southwest winds are forecast lifting northeast with seas 28 ft at 56S 176W aimed east-northeast. Fri AM (3/19) fetch is to fade from 30-35 kts with seas fading from 25 ft at 53.5N 160W aimed east-northeast. Something to monitor. Maybe small swell for Hawaii and the US West Coast is possible.

 

Small Southeast Pacific Gale
A gale started building in the deep Southeast Pacific Sat PM (3/6) producing 40-45 kt southwest winds with seas building from 26 ft at 65S 147W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (3/7) 45 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast fast with 35 ft seas at 59S 123.5W aimed northeast. In the evening the gale was east of the SCal swell window with 40 kt south winds and seas 32 ft at 55S 113.5W aimed northeast. Small swell is radiating northeast.

North CA: Swell fading Thurs (3/18) from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 175 degrees

 

Central South Pacific Gale (North)
A small gale developed in the Central South Pacific on Sat PM (3/13) producing south winds at 45 kts over a small area aimed north with seas building from 22 ft at 46S 150W aimed northeast. On Sun AM (3/14) the gale built with south winds at 45 kts with 35 ft seas at 47S 142W aimed north. Fetch was fading in the evening from 35-40 kts lifting north with 30 ft seas at 44S 141W aimed north. Fetch was fading fast Mon AM (3/15) from 30 kts with residual seas fading from 27 ft at 41S 139W aimed north. This system was gone after that. Something to monitor and interesting given it's very northward position and northward track.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (3/21) building to 1.3 ft @ 18 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell building through the day Mon (3/22) pushing 2.0 ft @ 16 secs late (3.0 ft). Swell fading some on Tues (3/23) fading from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs early (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (3/22) building to 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Tues (3/23) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 198 degrees

 

Ross Ice Shelf Storm
Of interest is a new storm that developed in the deep Central South Pacific on Sun AM (3/14) producing 45 kt southwest winds streaming off the Ross Ice Shelf with seas building from 32 ft at 67S 175W aimed northeast. On Sun PM the storm was building with 50+ kt southwest winds and seas 41 ft at 67.5S 167.5W and just off the summertime melted Ross Ice Shelf. On Mon AM (3/15) southwest winds were fading from 45 kts over a decent sized area with seas 42 ft at 64.5S 152.5W aimed east-northeast. In the evening the gale was all but gone with southwest winds fading from 30 kts and seas fading from 32 ft at 60.5S 143.5W aimed northeast. Something to monitor.

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Mon (3/22) building to 1.0 ft @ 22 secs late (2.0 ft). Swell building on Tues (2/23) to 1.7 ft @ 19 secs later (3.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (3/23) building from 1.3 ft @ 20 secs later (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 192 degrees

 

Small New Zealand Gale
Another gale developed under New Zealand Tues AM (3/16) producing 45 kt southwest winds over an infinitesimal sized area aimed northeast with seas building from 29 ft at 54S 166E. In the evening 45-50 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast over a tiny area with 35 ft seas at 50S 178E aimed northeast. The gale was fading Wed AM (3/17) with 40 kt south winds and seas fading from 34 ft at 48S 173W aimed northeast over a tiny area. Fetch was fading in the evening from 40+ kts from the south with seas 33 ft at 46S 168W aimed northeast. This system dissipated quickly after that on Thurs AM (3/18) with seas fading from 25 ft at 44S 163W aimed northeast. This is to be more a swell producer for Tahiti and Hawaii than the US mainland.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Tues (3/23) building to 1.1 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (3/24) at 1.3 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (3/25) from 1.2 ft @ 14 secs early (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 197 degrees

 

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

 

QuikCAST's

 

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

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.

 

South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours starting Sun AM (3/22) a gale is forecast building southeast of New Zealand extending from off the Ross Ice Shelf producing a broad area of 35 kt southwest winds with seas building from 30 ft at 63S 177W aimed northeast. In the evening a more consolidated and broader area of 35-40 kt southwest winds are forecast with a developing core to the south at 45 kts with seas building from 31 ft at 57.5S 177W aimed northeast. On Mon AM (3/22) fetch is to be 40 kts from the southwest with seas 29-32 ft over a broad area at 61S 163W aimed northeast. In the evening fetch is to push east-northeast at 40 kts with seas 33 ft at 58S 153W aimed east-northeast with a secondary fetch building under New Zealand at 45 kt from the west with seas 39 ft at 60.5S 165E aimed east. On Tues AM (3/23) only the secondary fetch is to remain producing abroad area of 40 kt southwest winds and seas 38 ft at 58.5S 178E aimed east-northeast. In the evening fetch is to fade from 35-40 kts over a broad area aimed east-northeast with seas fading from 34 ft at 54S 167W aimed northeast. On Wed AM (3/24) fetch is to fade from 40 kts from the southwest with 32 ft seas over a large area aimed northeast at 50S 155W. This system is to quickly dissipate in the evening with 35+ kt southwest winds and seas fading from 31 ft at 49S 142W aimed northeast. This system to fade from there. Something to monitor.

 

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Possible Kelvin In-Flight
Warm subsurface water previously isolated to the far West Pacific is pushing east to a point south of California while warm water also builds at the surface off Ecuador

MJO/ENSO Discussion
The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) 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.
And the El Nino/La Nino cycle (collectively know as ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a less frequent (about once every 7 years) but more impactful cycle that affects world wide weather. Specifically, strong El Nino events promote storm production in the Pacific while La Nina events suppress storm production. These therefore have a significant impact on the production of swell and surf. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO and ENSO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for upcoming activity (or inactivity depending on the state and interaction of these two oscillations).

Overview: A double dip La Nina was in control 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. In January 2019, those warm waters were fading, but then rebuilt late in Feb associated with Kelvin Wave (#3). But as of early June 2019 warm water was fading and by August a tongue of cool water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos reaching to a point nearly south of Hawaii. El Nino was dead. A bit of a recovery occurred during Fall of 2019, with weak warm water building in the Nino 1.2 region, but cool water held in a pool off Peru and had not changed until March 2020. By April the cool pool pushed east and by May subsurface cool waters erupted off Ecuador, forming a well defined cool tongue that looked like the start of La Nina, holding into July 2020.

LONG-RANGE PACIFIC STORM AND SWELL GENERATION POTENTIAL FORECAST
Fall/Winter 2020/2021 = 3.0/3.5 (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: It is assumed the PDO has moved to the warm phase in 2014 and that a weak borderline El Nino from 2018 faded out in the Fall of 2019. A La Nina like ocean temperature pattern developed in the equatorial East Pacific in the summer of 2019, then faded and returned to a neutral if not weak warm status during the Winter of 2019-2020 only to return stronger in the Summer of 2020. We have been suspecting a turn towards a La Nina like atmospheric pattern to develop in the late Winter/early Spring of 2020. Our best hope is that moderation from the warm phase of the PDO might tamp down development of a full blown La Nina as we move into 2020. But at this time that does not appear likely. Given all that, for the 2020 there is decent probability for development of La Nina meaning a reduced number of storm days and storm intensity during the summer season, resulting in a below normal level of swell, with swell being below normal duration and period. And by the Fall and early Winter of 2020/21, the number of storm days, intensity and duration of those storms should fade even more, resulting in depressed swell production. This pattern is expected to hold through the Spring of 2021.

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 (3/12) No Update - 5 day average winds were moderate from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific turning weak westerly over the Central Pacific and moderate westerly over the KWGA. Anomalies were strong east over the East equatorial Pacific then modest west over the Central Pacific then modest to moderate easterly over the KWGA. (Note: These are 5 day average winds, so they lag what is happening today by about 2 days).
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (3/18) east anomalies were light to modest over the KWGA. The forecast calls for light east anomalies holding unchanged till 3/21 then starting to build to moderate plus strength on the dateline and holding till the end of the model run on 3/25.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/17) A moderate Inactive MJO pattern was building over the West KWGA today. The statistic model projects the moderate Inactive MJO pushing east through the KWGA building to strong status on day 10 of the model run over the core of the KWGA the fading slightly at day 15 of the model run. The dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase holding at moderate status over the West KWGA on day 5, fading to weak status on day 10 over the core of the KWGA then all but gone at day 15. The two model have differing outlooks.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/18) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the North Africa today and is to track east into the East Indian Ocean by day 15 of the model run and exceedingly weak. The dynamic model suggests the same thing but with the Active Phase pushing to the Maritime Continent at the end of the model run.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/15) This model depicts a modest Inactive MJO pattern (dry air) over the East Pacific and it is to track east while slowly losing strength moving over Central America on 3/30. A weak Active (wet) Phase is to develop over the West Pacific on 3/20 tracking east while slowly building and pushing into Central America on 4/14. A weak Inactive Phase (dry air) is to push east 3/30-4/24. And a weak Active Phase (wet air) is to push east from the West Pacific 4/9 through the end of the model run on 4/24 over the Central Pacific then.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/17) This model depicts a neutral MJO over the KWGA today with mostly weak east anomalies in the KWGA. The forecast indicates a weak Inactive MJO is to track slowly east through the KWGA 3/27 through the end of the model run on 4/14 with east anomalies slowly building in strength and coverage at moderate status starting on 3/26 peaking on 4/7 and then slowly fading but still present a modest status through the end of the model run on 4/14. West anomalies and the Active Phase of the MJO are south of California today and are to hold through 3/25 increasing the odds of rain there during that window. But east anomalies are forecast building in coverage over that area in into Central and East Pacific filling that area to a point south of California by 3/29 and holding through the end of the model run (meaning decreased odds for rain in CA then).
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/18 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO over the KWGA today and it's to slowly and weakly track east through 4/12 with weak east anomalies holding during that timeframe over the dateline with interspersed pockets of weak west anomalies. An solid Active MJO signal is forecast to follow tracking east 4/7-5/11 producing solid if not strong west anomalies filling the KWGA. This is to be the first real Active Phase in a year or more. A modest Inactive MJO is to follow 5/7 through the end of the model run on 6/15 but with modest west anomalies still in control of the KWGA. A new Active Phase is to start building in the West on 5/29. The low pass filter indicates a high pressure bias is firmly in control over the dateline today with 4 contour lines reaching east to a point south of California. The forth contour line is to fade on 3/27. The 3rd contour line is to fade on 5/5. The second contour line is to fade 5/21. The remaining 1 is to be shifting quickly east starting 5/3 and losing coverage and no longer in the KWGA after 5/29. A single contour low pressure bias is over the Indian Ocean today. The remaining contour line is to theoretically start shrinking in coverage from the west on 5/5 while tracking east to 170W filling the KWGA at the end of the model run while building to 3 contour lines. This looks like a possible El Nino scenario if one is to believe the model or at least a return to normal. East anomalies that were previously solid in the Indian Ocean for over a year migrated east into the West Pacific on 10/1/20 and stabilized there, but are theoretically starting a slow fade while migrating east moving to the a point south of California by mid-April as the Active Phase builds over the KWGA then. Theoretically the end of La Nina is near (starting on 4/15).

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (3/13) No Update - Today in the far West Pacific the 28 deg isotherm line was easing east to 170E after being steady at 165E for over a month. The 24 deg isotherm was pushing the whole way across the equatorial Pacific and building in coverage and depth as compared to weeks prior. Anomaly wise, warm anomalies +4 deg C have moved east with the dividing line today at 153W versus 165W on 2/21 with a thin finger tracking eat to 120W if one is to believe the model. A broad cooling pattern was controlling the entire equatorial Pacific with anomalies in a broad pocket at -3C at 125W and west from there. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/14 indicates a dramatic improvement with warm anomalies moving east subsurface to 120W indicative of a possible Kelvin Wave moving east. Negative anomalies in the East Pacific were the least negative at any time in months and getting shallower. 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) A dramatic improvement was occurring with sea heights near neutral (0 to -5 cms) over the entire equatorial Pacific other than the area from the Galapagos to 120W where they were only -5 cms. A small area of positive anomalies was building over Ecuador pushing almost to the Galapagos and another near 150W on the equator. Negative anomalies were -5 cms along the coast of Peru and reaching north from Central America up to Baja then into South and North CA. Looking at the big picture, negative anomalies were forming a massive triangle from Cape Mendocino to the intersection of the dateline and equator then into Southern Chile. But it was much weaker than weeks and months past. And now with neutral to positive anomalies developing on the equator, the end seems near for La Nina.

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: (3/17) The latest images indicate a stream of warm water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador out to 120W. This is a new development. Weak cool water was west of there again on the equator out to the dateline but generally weak. Warmer temps were building along Chile up into Peru joining the main flow on the equator and also building down from Central America. The total cool flow looks much weaker than days past. Cool anomalies were streaming from Chile west-northwest to the dateline also feeding the main cool pool but far weaker and over a smaller area than even a few days ago. Overall this seems to indicate the collapse of La Nina.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (3/17): Temps are warming significantly over the equator from the Galapagos west to 120W. Warming was also occurring off Peru extending west to 140W. This is likely attributable to the Active Phase of the MJO moving over the East Pacific. A previous strong pocket of cooling right along the coast of Ecuador has significantly eroded but still present. Cooling was still present from 120W to 160W on the equator.
Hi-res Overview: (3/17) A weak stream of cool water was extending from off Chile tracking northwest to the equator out to the dateline and west to New Guinea but appears to be losing definition. A similar stream was migrating southwest from off Baja Mexico and pretty solid. A more stable pattern of warm anomalies was building on the equator reaching south off Chile and north to Mexico west to 120W on the equator. The remaining cool core of La Nina is pushing west from 120W over the dateline but warmer than day past. La Nina appears to be in retreat.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (3/18) Today's temps were falling slightly at +0.653 after peaking at +0.714 on 3/16. Temp previously peaked at +0.601 on 3/9 and that after a recent high of +0.100 on 2/1. Temps previously were -0.604 on 1/24. A previous peak of -0.595 occurred on 12/11. This area has been on a seesaw rising trend since early October. Temps were previously down to -2.138 on 8/13. The longterm trend has been on a slow but steady increase.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(3/18) Temps were falling some at -0.358 after peaking at -0.170 on 3/10, the highest in a year. Temps bottomed out at -1.654 on 11/3, rising to to -0.982 on 1/21. The previous low before that was -0.733 on 9/10. Temps were on a steady decline since 7/25 then bottomed out in late October and have been on a slow increase since.

Click for Full Sized Image Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 Sea Surface Temp (SST) Anomalies & Current SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (3/16) Actuals per the model indicates temps bottomed out in early Nov at -1.25 degs then rose to -0.65 degs mid-Jan and then up to -0.25 degs in March. The forecast depicts temps holding in the -0.25 to -0.35 deg range into July and holding into early Nov. This seems more possible than previous runs, suggesting an end to La Nina from now forward conditions at worst.
IRI Consensus Plume: The Feb 20, 2021 Plume depicts temps are at -0.64 degs today, and are to rise to -0.37 in April and stabilizing in May at -0.26 maybe easing up to -0.24 degs in Oct. Most models are suggesting a moderate La Nina returning to Neutral in the late Spring of 2021.
See chart here - link.

Atmospheric Coupling (Indicating the presence of El Nino in the atmosphere driven by the ocean):
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (negative is good, positive bad - this is a lagging indicator) (3/18): The daily index was rising at -2.49. The 30 day average was falling at +1.36 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was falling some at +10.69 after peaking at +15.75 on 2/23 and clearly indicative of La Nina. This index is a lagging indicator.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): June -0.67, May -0.46, April 2020 -0.69, March -0.09, Feb +0.65, Jan +0.42, This index was steady positive Aug 2018 through Feb 2020, and now is steady negative, but only weakly so.

Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Per NOAAs index recent values: 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 2019 -0.18, Feb -0.50 Mar -0.23, April +0.10, May +0.14, June -0.11, July +0.44, Aug -0.14, Sept +0.05, Oct -0.96, Nov -0.28, Dec +0.01, Jan 2020 -1.17, This continues to look like the warm phase of the PDO. No consistently solid negative readings have occurred since Feb 2014
The Washington/JISAO index (Jan-Dec): Jan 2018 +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 


Powerlinessurf Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest
Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for this week. See it Here
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NBC News - Climate Change and Surfing: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/climate-change-good-surfing-other-sports-not-so-much-ncna1017131

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

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

Time Zone Converter By popular demand we've built and easy to use time convert that transposes GMT time to whatever time zone you are located. It's ion left hand column on every page on the site near the link to the swell calculator.

Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table

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