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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2021 5:02 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
1.8 - California & 2.1 - 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 3/22 thru Sun 3/28

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   

Last Weak NPac Gale Fading
South Pacific Steadily Productive

BUOY ROUNDUP
On Tuesday, March 23, 2021 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas were 3.2 ft @ 13.3 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 12.8 secs from 183 degrees. Water temp 75.9 degs (Pearl Harbor 233).
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 4.0 ft @ 11.1 secs with swell 2.5 ft @ 10.0 secs from 31 degrees. Water temp 76.1 degs.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 7.5 ft @ 7.7 secs with swell 6.0 ft @ 7.7 secs from 270 degrees. Wind at the buoy was northwest at 20-23 kts. Water temperature 54.0 degs, 56.5 (Topanga 103), 56.8 degs (Long Beach 215), 57.7 (Del Mar 153). At Harvest Buoy (071) primary swell was 8.5 ft @ 8.3 secs from 318 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 4.1 ft @ 7.2 secs from 267 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 4.0 ft @ 8.4 secs from 279 degrees. Southward at Point Loma (191) swell was 5.2 ft @ 9.8 secs from 280 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 11.2 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 8.1 ft @ 9.3 secs from 310 degrees. Wind at the buoy (012) was northwest at 21-25 kts. Water temp 50.4 (029), 48.9 degs (SF Bar) and 52.9 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 Tuesday (3/23) North and Central CA had waves at shoulder high coming from the northwest and somewhat lined up but mushed and reasonably clean early. Protected breaks were waist to chest high and warbled and soft with some wind bump on top. At Santa Cruz surf was waist high and clean and somewhat lined up but weak. In Southern California/Ventura waves were waist high and crumbled and warbled with some northwest wind on it. Central Orange County had set waves at near head high and lined up and pretty clean but soft with north wind blowing. South Orange County's best summertime breaks were waist to maybe chest high on the sets and clean but soft with some light intermixed warble. North San Diego had sets at shoulder to head high and lined up but soft and warbled if not junky at exposed breaks. Hawaii's North Shore had waves to waist high on occasion and clean and weak. The South Shore was thigh high on the rare set and clean. The East Shore was getting easterly windswell with waves head high and almost clean with a light southeast breeze.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Tuesday (3/23) California was getting shorter period locally generated northwest windswell and 2 tiny southern hemi swells at protected south facing breaks. Hawaii was poised to start receiving small New Zealand swell at south facing breaks and windswell at exposed east facing breaks. A small gale produced up to 27 ft seas in the Northwestern Gulf of Alaska Sun-Mon (3/22) with swell from it radiating southeast towards Hawaii and the US West Coast. And this gale is to possibly redeveloping in the same area on Fri (3/26) producing 19 ft seas aimed again at Hawaii. But after that nothing specific is forecast. 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. That swell is fading now in CA. And a stronger system formed in the deep Central South Pacific Sun-Mon (3/15) producing up to 43 ft seas aimed east-northeast. That swell is building in CA. And another developed pushing under New Zealand Tues-Wed (3/19) with up to 35 ft seas aimed northeast but small in coverage. That swell is poised for HI. A weaker but broader one followed directly under New Zealand on Thurs (3/18) producing 29-30 ft seas aimed northeast. And another broad one was pushing northeast from under New Zealand Sun-Wed (3/24) with 26-30 ft seas aimed northeast. And maybe another to follow in the upper reaches of the Southeast Pacific on Fri-Sat (3/27) producing up to 38 ft seas aimed northeast. But after that things quiet down. Spring is here.

See all the details below...

 

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

North Pacific

Overview
Jetstream
On Tuesday (3/23) the jet was consolidated tracking hard northeast off Japan forming a massive ridge pushing north of the Aleutians well up into the Northeast Bering Sea then falling hard south into a tight pinched trough with its apex 600 nmiles northwest of Hawaii being fed by 130 kts winds offering some limited support for gale development, then again ridging hard north and pushing inland over the Central Canadian Coast. Over the next 72 hours the Hawaiian trough is to fully cut off on Wed (3/24) but continue circulating just northwest of Hawaii supporting low pressure development into Friday (3/26) while back to the west the jetstream splits off Japan with most energy tracking north over the Aleutians into North Canada with no troughs forecast offering nothing. Beyond 72 hours starting Sat (3/27) the jet is to remain massively split with the northern branch forming a tight trough off Japan tracking east but not being fed by much wind energy offering little in terns of support for gale development with that trough reaching the dateline at the end of the model run on Tues (3/30). East of the trough the northern branch is to remain displaced well north running through the Bering Sea and unproductive. It sure looks like the end of winter at the jetstream level.

Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/23) no swell was hitting California originating in the North Pacific other than local windswell.

Over the next 72 hours no swell producing fetch is forecast other than local windswell. Otherwise small swell from a gale previously in the Northwestern Gulf was radiating towards Hawaii (see Small Gulf Gale below).

That said remnants of the Gulf Gale below are to possibly redevelop on Thurs PM (3/25) northwest of the Islands producing a small area of 30-35 kt north winds and seas 19 ft at 36N 168W aimed south. Fetch is to fade out after that. Possible swell arrival in Hawaii on Sun (3/28) pushing 3.3 ft @ 11 secs (3.0-3.5 ft) for 24 hours from 330 degrees. Something to monitor.

 

Small Gulf Gale
One last tiny gale developed in the Western Gulf on Sun AM (3/21) producing 40 kt west winds with seas building from 23 ft at 40N 180W aimed east. In the evening 40 kt northwest winds were lifting northeast over a modest sized area with seas 27 ft at 42N 170.5W aimed east. The gale lifted northeast on Mon AM (3/22) with 30-35 kt northwest winds over the Northwestern Gulf with seas 23 ft at 43N 168W aimed southeast. The gale held in the evening while lifting north with 30-35 kt north winds streaming south off the East Aleutians with seas fading from 18 ft at 42N 168W aimed south. This system was dissipating Tues AM (3/23) with north winds fading from 25-30 kts and seas fading from 18 ft at 44N 165W aimed south at Hawaii. Possibly some small swell to result for Hawaii. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Wed (3/24) building to 4.0 ft @ 12 secs later (4.5 ft). Swell building some overnight pushing on Thurs AM (3/25) to 4.6 ft @ 12 secs (5.5 ft) holding all day. Swell fading out on Fri (3/26) fading from 4.2 ft @ 12 secs early (5.0 ft). Swell Direction: 325 moving to 335 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (3/25) building to 2.0 ft @ 15 secs buried in local windswell (3.0 ft). Swell holding on Fri (3/26) at 2.1 ft @ 12-13 secs (2.5 ft). Swell gone after that. Swell Direction: 290 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

  • Wed (3/24) a summer like pressure gradient sets up with northwest winds forecast at 25+ kts for North CA north of Bodega Bay and 10 kts fort Central CA early holding all day.
  • Thurs (3/25) northwest winds are forecast at 20-25 kts all day for North and Central CA. Light rain for Cape Mendocino mostly early.
  • Fri (3/26) northwest winds are forecast at 25 kts for North CA and 10-15 kts nearshore for Central CA but 20 kts over outer waters early fading to 10 kts everywhere but Cape Mendocino later which stays northwest at 20-25 kts. Low odds of rain showers for San Diego through the day.
  • Sat (3/27) light winds are forecast all day other than northwest winds 20-25 kts from Pt Arena northward early and that fading to nil later.
  • Sun (3/28) northwest winds are forecast at 5010 kts early building to 10 kts later.
  • Mon (3/29) high pressure and northwest winds return at 20-25 kts for North CA early and 15 kts for Central CA early building to 30-35 kts later in NOrth CA and 20-25 kts for Central CA.
  • Tues (3/30) north winds are forecast at 30-35 kts for Cape mendocino early and 10 kts nearshore south of there (but up to 20 kts off Central CA) fading late to 30 kts for Cape Mendocino and calm south of there.

Total snow accumulation for the next 10 days respectively for Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Kirkwood and Mammoth at 1-2 inches, 2 inches, 2 inches, and 2 inches all on 3/25..

Freezing level is at 5,000 ft today reaching 10,000 ft on 3/24, falling to 4,000 ft on 3/25 then rising to 10,000 ft on 3/27 pushing 12,000 ft 3/30.

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

 

South Pacific

Overview
Surface Analysis
On Tuesday (3/23)
tiny swell was supposedly hitting from a gale that previously formed in the northern reaches of the Central South Pacific (see Central South Pacific Gale North below). Another swell was also supposedly building associated with a gale that developed just off the Ross Ice Shelf in the Central South Pacific (See Ross Ice Shelf Storm below).

Over the next 72 hours another swell is expected to arrive radiating northeast from a gale that previously tracked northeast from under New Zealand (see Small New Zealand Gale below). And yet another small New Zealand swell is to be behind that (see Another New Zealand Gale below). And yet another small gale developed under New Zealand (see 3rd New Zealand Gale below).

Also a new gale is forecast building in the Central South Pacific on Fri AM (3/26) with 45-50 kt southwest winds over a fragmented area and seas building from 35 ft at 58.5S 152.5W aimed east-northeast. In the evening 40-455 kt southwest winds are to move over the Southeast Pacific with 37 ft seas at 55S 131.5W aimed east. On Sat AM (3/27) 45-50 kt southwest winds are to be over the far Southeast Pacific with seas 40 ft at 53.5S 119.5W aimed east-northeast. After that the gale is to fall southeast and move east of even the Southern CA swell window. Something to monitor.

 

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: Swell fading some on Tues (3/23) from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs early (3.0 ft). Residuals on Wed (3/24) fading from 1.4 ft @ 13-14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees

North CA: Swell peaking on Tues (3/23) at 1.4 ft @ 15-16 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Wed (3/24) from 1.4 ft @ 14-15 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: Swell building on Tues (3/23) to 1.0 ft @ 19 secs later (2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Wed (3/24) 1.2 ft @ 17-18 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (3/25) from 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs early (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Fri (3/26) from 1.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 195 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Tues (3/23) building from 0.8 ft @ 20 secs later (1.5 ft). Swell building on Wed (3/24) to 1.2 ft @ 18 secs (2.0 ft). Swell fading on Thurs (3/25) from 1.2 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). Dribbles on Fri (3/26) fading from 1.1 ft @ 15-16 secs (1.5-2.0 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 1.3 ft @ 14 secs early (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 197 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (3/26) at 0.9 ft @ 16-17 secs (1.5 ft). Swell holding on Sat (3/27) at 1.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 218 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Fri (3/26) at 0.8 ft @ 17 secs (1.0-1.5 ft). Swell holding on Sat (3/27) at 1.0 ft @ 16 secs (1.5 ft). Swell Direction: 217 degrees

 

Another New Zealand Gale
On Thurs AM (3/18) a broad gale was developing south of New Zealand producing 35 kt southwest winds and seas building from 30 ft at 59S 170E aimed east-northeast. In the evening 30-35 kt southwest winds were lifting northeast with seas 27 ft at 56S 177W aimed east-northeast. On Fri AM (3/19) fetch was fading from 30 kts with seas fading from 25 ft at 52.5N 160W aimed east-northeast. Maybe small swell to result for Hawaii and the US West Coast.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Thurs (3/25) building to 1.0 ft @ 17-18 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell peaking on Fri (3/26) at 1.4 ft @ 16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (3/27) from 1.2 ft @ 14-15 secs (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 197 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Sat (3/27) building to 1.0 ft @ 19 secs late (1.5 ft). Swell holding on Sun (3/28) at 1.0 ft @ 17-18 secs later (1.5-2.0 ft). Swell continues on Mon (3/29) at 1.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (2.0 ft). More on Tues (3/30) at 1.5 ft @ 15-16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Dribbles fading on Wed (3/31) from 1.2 ft @ 14 secs(1.5-2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 206 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Sun (3/28) building to 1.2 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell building Mon (3/29) to 1.5 ft @ 16 secs (2.0-2.5 ft) later. Swell fading Tues (3/30) from 1.4 ft @ 15 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 205 degrees

 

3rd New Zealand Gale
On Sun AM (3/22) a gale developed south of New Zealand producing a broad area of 35-40 kt southwest winds with seas building from 30 ft at 60S 173E aimed northeast. In the evening a more consolidated and broader area of 30-35 kt southwest winds was pushing east-northeast with seas 27 ft at 55S 173W aimed northeast. On Mon AM (3/22) a secondary fetch was pushing under New Zealand with 40-45 kt southwest winds and seas building from 28-32 ft over an elongated area with it's leading edge at 58S 170WE aimed east-northeast. In the evening fetch was pushing east-northeast at 35 kts over a broad area with seas 26-28 ft at 56.5S 154W aimed east-northeast. On Tues AM (3/23) fetch was fading from 30-35 kts over a broad area aimed east-northeast with seas fading from 24-26 ft at 51.5S 149.75W aimed east-northeast. This system is to be gone after that. Something to monitor.

Hawaii: Expect swell arrival on Mon (3/29) building to 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell holding on Tues (3/30) at 2.0 ft @ 16-17 secs early (3.0-3.5 ft). Swell fading on Wed (3/31) from 1.9 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Dribbles on Thurs (4/1) fading from 1.5 ft @ 14 secs (2.0 ft). Swell Direction: 190 degrees

Southern CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (3/31) building to 1.9 ft @ 17 secs later (3.0 ft). On Thurs (4/1) swell is to build to 2.3 ft @ 16 secs later (3.5 ft). Swell holding on Fri (4/2) at 2.3 ft @ 16 secs (3.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (4/3) from 2.0 ft @ 16 secs (3.0 ft). Dribbles on Sun (4/4) fading from 1.6 ft @ 14 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 degrees

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (3/31) building to 1.6 ft @ 17-18 secs later (2.5-3.0 ft). Swell building on Thurs (4/1) to 2.3 ft @ 16-17 secs (3.5-4.0 ft) later. Swell fading on Fri (4/2) from 2.0 ft @ 15 secs (3.0 ft). Sat (4/3) swell is to be fading from 2.0 ft @ 15-16 secs (3.0 ft). Swell fading on Sun (4/4) from 1.6 ft @ 14-15 secs (2.0-2.5 ft). Swell Direction: 200 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 there low odds of a small fetch of 50 kt west winds developing in association with a trough over the North Dateline region Sun AM (3/28) producing 26 ft seas at 50N 178E aimed east. in the evening 40 kt west winds are to be just barely south of the Aleutians generating seas to 33 ft at 51N 176W aimed east. On Mon AM (3/29) west winds are to fade from 30 kts south of the Eastern Aleutians with seas 30 ft over a tiny area at 52.5N 165.2W aimed east. Something to monitor.

 

South Pacific

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

 

 

MJO/ENSO Forecast

 

Kelvin Wave Pushing East
Summary - A Kevin Wave is in flight but weak trades and a warming surface water trend previously building of Ecuador appears to be fading some as the Inactive Phase of the MJO makes its trip across the Pacific

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 (3/22) 5 day average winds were strong from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific continuing strong east over the Central Pacific and moderate plus over the KWGA. Anomalies were modest east over the East equatorial Pacific then neutral over the Central Pacific then weak to modest 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 (3/22) east anomalies were strong over the KWGA. The forecast calls for east anomalies holding at strong strength just west of the dateline through the end of the model run on 3/29.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (3/22) A moderate Inactive MJO pattern was over the core of the KWGA today. The statistic model projects the moderate Inactive MJO holding position and strength in the core of the KWGA through the 15 day model run. The dynamic model suggests the Inactive Phase holding the same position but fading significantly on day 10 and gone at day 15 with a neutral MJO signal projected.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (3/23) The statistical model depicts the Active Phase was weak over the Central Indian Ocean today and is to track east into the Maritime Continent by day 15 of the model run and exceedingly weak. The dynamic model suggests the Active Phase pushing almost east of the Maritime Continent at the end of the model run and building to moderate status.
40 day Upper Level Model (assumed to be a statistical mode and 1 week ahead of what is occurring at the surface): (3/15) No Update - 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): (3/22) This model depicts a coherent Inactive MJO signal over the KWGA today pushing east with moderate plus strength east anomalies in the KWGA. The forecast indicates the Inactive MJO pushing through the KWGA and out of it by 4/1 with east anomalies holding at moderate plus strength during that window or even to 4/5. After that a neutral MJO is forecast with weak to modest east anomalies holding over the dateline but slowly losing coverage in the west with west anomalies slowly building in covering the western half of the KWGA starting 3/29 and easing slightly east from there.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (3/23 - using the 4th/latest ensemble member): This model depicts a weak Inactive MJO over the KWGA today and o slowly and weakly tracking east and out of the KWGA on 4/9 with weak east anomalies holding mostly over the dateline during that timeframe but with weak west anomalies over the far west KWGA. A moderate Active MJO signal is forecast to follow tracking east 4/5-5/10 producing moderate to strong west anomalies filling the KWGA. This is to be the first real Active Phase in a year or more. A strong Inactive MJO is to follow 5/4-6/3 but with weak to modest east anomalies filling the KWGA. A new stronger Active Phase is to start building in the West on 5/26 pushing east through the end of the model run on 6/20. 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 4/11. The 3rd contour line is to fade on 5/5. The second contour line is to fade 5/24. The remaining 1 is to be shifting east starting 4/21 and losing coverage and no longer in the KWGA after 6/11. 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 5/2 while tracking east to 180W and almost filling the KWGA at the end of the model run while building to 2 contour lines. The strong Active Phase forecast in April is to be the tipping point, and has been on this model for nearly 2 months. Still, it should only be strong enough to start pushing us to a neutral position long term. 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 late-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: (3/22) Today in the far West Pacific the 28 deg isotherm line was stable at 175E 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 +3 deg C have moved east with the dividing line today at 140W versus 165W on 2/21. A broad cool pool was trying to hold on over the equatorial Pacific with anomalies in a broad pocket at -2C at 125W and west from there but losing coverage compared to days past. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 3/19 indicates a dramatic improvement with warm anomalies moving east subsurface to 117W indicative of a 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: (3/19) A dramatic improvement was occurring with sea heights near neutral (0 to -5 cms) over the entire equatorial Pacific with a pocket of positive anomalies building on the dateline and another at 150W with a third nearshore to Ecuador. Negative anomalies were -5 cms along the coast of Peru and along the coast of Mexico up into California. 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 was dramatically collapsing in it's heart over 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: (3/22) The latest images indicate a stream of warm water was tracking west on the equator from Ecuador out to 125W but losing some continuity. 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 (3/22): Temps are warming in a small pocket between Ecuador and the Galapagos but with a solid cooling trend along Southern Ecuador and then west from the Galapagos out to 120W. it seem a cooling trend is developing. Otherwise a neutral temperature trend was occurring on the equator. In all a warming trend that has been occurring for 2 weeks appears to be fading. This is likely attributable to the Active Phase of the MJO also fading over the East Pacific.
Hi-res Overview: (3/22) A stream of warm water was pushing west off Ecuador to about 120W. Weak cool water was east of there to the dateline. A weak area 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: (3/23) Today's temps were rising slightly at +0.326 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:
(3/23) Temps were trying to rebuild today at -0.263 after fall to-0.404 on 3/20 and that 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) No Update - 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) (3/23): The daily index was falling at +5.41. The 30 day average was falling at -1.80 after peaking at +19.51 on 1/14. The 90 day average was falling some at +9.90 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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