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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 5:32 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
4.5 - California & 4.1 - 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 12/3 thru Sun 12/9

Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Swell #2 Hitting Hawaii
Bound for CA - Moderate Gale to Follow in Gulf

On Wednesday, December 5, 2018 :

  • Buoy 233 (Pearl Harbor Entrance)/Buoy 239 (Lanai): Seas at Barbers Point were 5.9 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 5.2 ft @ 18.0 secs from 311 degrees.
  • Buoy 106 (Waimea): Seas were 12.5 ft @ 16.7 secs with swell 10.9 ft @ 17.5 secs from 309 degrees.
  • Buoy 46025 (Catalina RDG): Seas were 3.9 ft @ 3.8 secs with swell 2.0 ft @ 9.8 secs from 201 degrees. Wind at the buoy was east at 20-23 kts. Water temperature 63.0 degs. At Ventura (Buoy 111) swell was 0.7 ft @ 13.0 secs from 207 degrees. At Santa Monica (028) swell was 1.4 ft @ 9.3 secs from 266 degrees. At Oceanside (045) swell was 1.0 ft @ 11.8 secs from 209 degrees. Southward at Pt Loma (191) swell was 1.1 ft @ 12.1 secs from 223 degrees.
  • Buoy 46012 (Half Moon Bay)/029 (Pt Reyes): Seas were 10.3 ft @ 9.1 secs with swell 7.0 ft @ 9.2 secs from 171 degrees. Wind at the buoy (013) was east at 24-30 kts. Water temp 59.9 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 Wednesday (12/5) in North and Central CA mixed west and southerly windswell was producing waves in the chest high range and clean with steady offshore's but warbled and weak. Protected breaks were flat to knee high and clean with steady offshore's. At Santa Cruz surf was chest high and very raw and warbled though surface conditions were clean. In Southern California/Ventura surf was flat with light southerly texture in the water. In North Orange Co surf was flat and clean. South Orange Country's best breaks were flat to knee high and clean with modest offshore's. In North San Diego surf was flat to knee high and clean. Hawaii's North Shore was getting Swell #2 with waves to 15 ft at select breaks and powerful with clean conditions driven by moderate east trades. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting east windswell at chest high and chopped from moderate easterly trades.

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

Meteorological Overview
On Wednesday (12/5) no swell other than locally produced windswell was hitting exposed breaks in California. Solid swell was hitting Hawaii from strong Storm #2 that pushed off North Japan late Sat (12/1) moving east towards the dateline late Sun (12/2) with seas to 51 ft aimed east and then redeveloped while pushing north over the dateline on Mon (12/3) with seas again to 51 ft aimed east before fading in the Western Gulf Tues (12/4) with seas dropping from 41 ft again aimed east. Real swell is in the water and hitting Hawaii while also pushing east. After that a more modest system is to develop in the Western Gulf Fri (12/7) with seas at 32 ft falling southeast and fading in the Central Gulf on Sat (12/8) with seas dropping from 28 ft aimed southeast. And another storm is to develop over the Northern Kuril's on Sat (12/8) with seas to 50 ft aimed east tracking east fading on the North Dateline region, only to redevelop in the Northern Gulf on Mon (12/10) with seas 40 ft aimed east then fading off North Canada 24 hrs later. A warming equatorial Pacific seems to be feeding the storm track. It will be interesting to see if the storm track holds over the next 2 weeks as the Inactive MJO sets up, or whether it fades out. That will give us a true test of the coupling (or lack) of the warming ocean pattern with the atmosphere.

See all the details below...


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

North Pacific

On Wednesday AM (12/5) the jet was consolidated ridging slightly to the northeast off Japan with winds to 120 kts reaching to the Central Aleutians then falling southeast forming a trough over the Northwestern Gulf with it's apex down at 40N and being fed by 140 kts winds and somewhat pinched though still supportive of gale development. From there the jet starting ridging northeast again and splitting at 150W (1200 nmiles north of Hawaii) with some energy tracking north and into Alaska with most tracking southeast and eventually over Central CA with a new small trough embedded in the flow 450 nmiles west of Pt Conception and supportive of low pressure development there. Over the next 72 hours the Western Gulf trough is to track east and lose identify while wind energy builds in the jet off Japan at 140 kts on Thurs (12/6) reaching east while ridging gently over the dateline and into the Western Gulf starting to form a new trough there being fed by winds building to 150 kts offering decent support for gale development there on Fri (12/7). That trough is to fall southeast into Sat (12/8) over the Central Gulf continuing to support gale development. Beyond 72 hours starting Sun (12/9) the Gulf trough is to be fading some while pushing east centered just off Oregon while wind energy builds over the whole of the jet and up to 200 kts off Japan forming a gentle broad ill formed trough off Kamchatka easing over the North Dateline region Tues (12/11) and building again on Wed (12/12) over the Northern Gulf with winds rebuilding to 190 kts feeding the trough. and more winds energy is to be building over Japan at 170 kts possibly offering more hope for the future. In all a solid jetstream pattern appears to be setting up.

Surface Analysis
On Wednesday (12/5) swell from a strong storm that built west of the dateline was hitting Hawaii and scheduled to arrive in California (See West Pacific Storm #2 below).

Over the next 72 hours a new fetch of northwest winds is to be building over the North Dateline into the Western Gulf on Thurs PM (12/6) with northwest winds 40 kts solid over a decent sized area aimed east-southeast with seas building from 29 ft over a small area at 49N 175.5W aimed southeast. Fri AM (12/7) northwest winds are to be 40-45 kts over a solid area aimed southeast falling southeast in the Western Gulf with seas building to 33 ft @ 45N 167W. In the evening fetch is to fall southeast fast at 35-40 kts with 30 ft seas at 45.5N 158W aimed southeast. On Sat AM (11/8) fetch is to reach the Southern Gulf aimed more east and fading from 30 kts with seas 27 ft at 40N 152W aimed southeast. In the evening the gale is to be lifting north positioned 450 nmiles off Vancouver Island with northwest winds 30-35 kts and seas 24 ft at 38N 148W aimed southeast. On Sun AM (12/9) the gale is to be gone with residual seas fading from 20 ft at 36N 142W aimed southeast. Another bout of larger rawer swell is possible for California and smaller less direct energy from Hawaii. Something to monitor.


West Pacific Storm #2
On Sat PM (12/1) a storm developed off North Japan producing a solid area of 60-65 kt northwest winds (hurricane force) aimed southeast with seas building from 30 ft at 41N 159.5E. On Sun AM (12/2) northwest winds were tracking east at 55-60 kts solid with seas building from 50 ft at 39.5N 169E. The storm tracked east in the evening with fetch still 55 kts solid from the northwest with seas 49 ft at 41N 177.5E aimed east. On Monday AM (12/3) the storm was lifting north over the dateline with winds 55 kts from the west over a solid area with seas rebuilding to 50 ft at 43.5N 175W. The gale was lifting north in the evening on the dateline with 45 kt west winds and seas 47 ft at 47.5N 171W over a solid area aimed east. On Tues AM (12/4) the gale was dissipating with fetch dropping from 40 kts over a solid area aimed east and seas fading from 37 ft at 49N 168W aimed east. The gale dissipated in the evening with fetch down to 35 kts from the west and seas fading from 29 ft over a modest sized area centered at 48N 169W aimed east and mainly from previous fetch. Something to monitor. Possible large long period swell to result.

Hawaii: Swell building into Wed (12/5) at sunrise when swell starts peaking at 8.8 ft @ 17-18 secs (15.5 ft) and holding most of the day. Swell fading some over night and down on Thurs AM (12/6) at 7.0 ft @ 15 seas (10.5 ft) holding through the day. Swell continues on Fri (12/7) pulsing again late afternoon to 7.0 ft @ 15 secs (10.5 ft). Swell fading on Sat (12/8) from 5.3 ft @ 14 secs (7.5 ft). Swell Direction: 317 degrees moving to 325 degrees later Thurs (12/6).

North CA: Expect swell arrival on Wed (12/5) after sunset with period 25 secs and size not noticeable. Swell slowly building as period drops through the day Thurs (12/6) peaking near 9 PM at 7.5 ft @ 18-19 secs (14 ft). Swell solid at sunrise Fri (12/7) at 7.4 ft @ 17-18 secs (13 ft) and generally holding through the day with period dropping only 1 sec. Residuals on Sat (12/8) steady at 4.9 ft @ 15 secs (7.5 ft). Dribbles Sun (12/9) at 5.0 ft @ 12 secs (6.0 ft). Swell Direction: 293-296 degrees

South CA: Expect swell arrival on Thurs AM (12/6) with period 23 secs and size not even noticeable. Swell slowly building as period drops through the day reaching 2.6 ft @ 20-21 secs at sunset. (5.0 ft). Fri (12/7) swell to be peaking near sunrise at 3.7 ft @ 18-19 secs (6.5 ft). Swell fading by sunrise Sat (12/8) from 3.4 ft @ 16-17 secs (5.0 ft) and size slowly dropping through the day. Residuals on Sun (12/9) holding at 2.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (3.5 ft). Swell Direction: 298-301 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 Wednesday AM (12/5) low pressure was centered 550 nmiles off Pt Conception drifting southeast with south to southeast winds 15-20 kts for Central CA and 10 kts for Southern CA building to 15+ kts later and east for North CA through the day. Patchy light rain is forecast for the North and central coasts early but becoming more focused on Southern CA into San Diego later afternoon. Light snow for the Sierra through the day becoming focused on the Southern Sierra late afternoon. Thurs (12/6) the low is to be moving over Southern CA waters and fading with east winds 10 kts early for North and Central CA and southwest winds 10-15 kts for Southern CA fading to light and variable late up north and southwest 10 kts for Southern CA late afternoon. Steady light rain for the bottom half of Central CA early and over all of Southern CA all day. Light snow for the extreme southern Sierra all day. Friday (12/7) light winds are forecast for the state turning south for Cape Mendocino late afternoon 15 kts. Light rain developing for Cape Mendocino in the evening. Saturday (12/8) a front is to be off the North CA coast with south winds 15 kts for Pt Arena northward but light south to Bodega Bay early and not turning south there until after dark, and reaching south to the Golden Gate overnight. Light rain on occasion for the Cape mendocino area. Sunday (12/9) south winds are forecast at 25+ kts reaching south to Pt Arena and maybe 10 kts to the Golden Gate later. Light winds south of there. Rain building south over all of North CA and to the Golden Gate late evening. Monday (12/10) light winds are forecast over the state early building into a steady northerly flow mid-day and 10-15 kts down to Pt Conception at sunset. A front is to be stalled over San Francisco to Monterey Bay with rain over that area and light over all of North CA and dissipating through the day. Modest snow developing limited to North Lake Tahoe and points north of there and holding through the evening. Total accumulation for the week for North Lake Tahoe 6 inches and 8 inches for Mammoth. Snow levels modest high into 12/10 then falling. Tuesday (10/11) high pressure is to take over with north winds 20 kts for South Cape Mendocino to Pt Conception. No precip forecast. Wed (12/12) high pressure is to start ridging into San Francisco with light winds there and points north and north to 20 kts over Pt Conception. Low pressure building well off North CA and building while pushing east. Rain building over Pt Arena northward.


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 starting Fri PM (12/7) a new storm is to be developing well west of the dateline just off the Northern Kuril's producing a modest sized area of 50 kt west winds getting traction on the oceans surface with seas building to 44 ft at 47N 155.5E. On Sat AM (12/8) 50 kt west winds to be pushing off the North Kuril's a decent sized area of 50 kt west winds are to be holding while pushing east with seas 49 ft at 49N 160.5E. In the evening the storm is to fade and lift northeast off Kamchatka with winds 45 kts from the west and seas fading from 45 ft at 50N 167E. The gale is to fade from there Sun AM (12/9) with winds dropping from 35 kts with seas fading from 34 ft at 51N 174E and shadowed relative to California by the Central Aleutians. Remnants of this system are to reorganize while pushing east over the dateline into the Northwestern Gulf Sun PM with winds building to 40 kts from the west and seas 29 ft over a broad area straddling the dateline with it's east most extent at 45N 173W aimed east. On Mon AM (12/10) 50 kt west winds are to be in the Northern Gulf with seas building from 35 ft at 51N 160.5W. In the evening west winds to push east at 50 kts in the Northern Gulf with seas building to 40 ft at 54N 150W aimed east to northeast mainly at the Canadian coast. No significant fetch or seas to follow relative to California. Secondary fetch is to be directly behind through still generating 28-30 ft seas aimed east.


South Pacific

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


MJO/ENSO Forecast


Possible Kelvin Wave #3 Building - ESPI Rising Slightly

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 beyond, but could not sustain itself, suggesting the demise of La Nina but not yet turning towards El Nino.

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 (12/4) 5 day average winds were moderately from the east over the Eastern equatorial Pacific to 160W, then fading to near calm at 160W and turning weak westerly on the dateline and continuing over the remainder of the KWGA. Anomalies were neutral to light west over the East equatorial Pacific turning westerly at 150W then building to strong westerly from 170W to the dateline, then weak westerly west of there over the core of the KWGA.
1 Week Forecast (GFS Model): On (12/5) modest west anomalies were fading on the dateline and extending east on the equator to Ecuador. Basically west anomalies were over the entire equatorial Pacific from the dateline eastward. But over the core of the KWGA building east anomalies were developing. East anomalies are forecast filling the western 75% of the KWGA and are forecast holding for the next week (through 12/12) but with a thin stream of westerly anomalies on or near the dateline. And strong east anomalies are forecast building east of the KWGA to Ecuador. It looks like the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to be building over the Western KWGA.

Kelvin Wave Generation Area wind monitoring model: West and East

Longer Range MJO/WWB Projections:  
OLR Models: (12/4) The Inactive Phase of the MJO was building over the KWGA, strongest in the west. The statistical model indicates the Inactive Phase is to build over the West Pacific easing east and in the core of the KWGA at day 5 filling the KWGA then weakening some while pushing east and over if not a bit east of the dateline at day 15. The dynamic model indicates the same thing but with the Inactive Phase not moving quite as fast to the east and over the dateline at day 15. The 2 models are generally in sync.
Phase Diagrams 2 week forecast (ECMF and GEFS): (12/5) The ECMF model depicts the Active Phase of the MJO was moderate over the West Indian Ocean. It is to track east steadily at moderate strength and is to be over the Maritime Continent 2 weeks out while fading some. The GEFS model depicts the same thing. The 2 models are generally in sync.
40 day Upper Level Model: (12/5) This model depicts a moderate Inactive signal over the West Pacific tracking east. It is to track quickly east over the East Pacific and into Central America on 12/20. A weak Active Phase of the MJO is to build in the West Pacific 12/15 tracking east into Central America on 1/9/19. A weak Inactive Phase is to start building in the West Pacific 1/6 tracking to the Central Pacific at the end of the model run on 1/14.
4 Week CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/4) This model depicts moderate to strong west anomalies were over the dateline and are forecast holding for another 4 day, with weak east anomalies from 165E and points west of there holding till 1 week out. But starting 12/11 weak west anomalies are to be filling the KWGA centered at 160E holding through the end of the model run on 1/1.
3 Month CFS Model (850 mb wind): (12/5) This model depicts weak west anomalies were in the core of the KWGA today with a modest Active Phase barely handing on there. But in 2 days the Inactive Phase of the MJO is to develop in the KWGA 12/7 -12/21 with weak west anomalies in the KWGA centered just west of the dateline. After that a somewhat stronger Active MJO pattern is to develop 12/22 through 2/7 with west anomalies holding from 140E and points east of there filling the KWGA and and building to WWB status 1/6-1/30. The MJO is to turn Inactive after that through the end of the model run on 3/2. 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 through the end of the model run. A 4th contour line previously forecast to to develop in the 12/22-1/21/19 period has disappeared. Conversely the third contour line which was to fade from 12/25-1/15 has reappeared. It now appears El Nino development is perhaps becoming a bit more of a certainty per this model, or at least a solid tendency towards El Nino is fairly certain. The atmosphere and ocean are trying to become coupled towards an El Nino bias in the Pacific Ocean, but there's no objective evidence of it yet. If it hasn't happened yet (by Dec 15), it's doubtful there will be significant weather influence, even if it does develop during this winter cycle. And this model is not suggesting they will become coupled, with the MJO cycle active, and not muted as it would be during a strong El Nino. Still this pattern is to slowly become more favorable to support storm production in the Pacific regardless of whether El Nino develops, especially compared to the 2 previous years given that we're still moving towards Winter and La Nina is gone. Our assumption is a normal Winter pattern will result, but nothing more.

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

Subsurface Waters Temps
TAO Array: (12/5) Today in the far West Pacific water temps are 30 degs and building back some ground after falling west reaching east to only 172E on 12/5 but now to 180W. The 28 deg isotherm line had retrograded west to 160W a few weeks back, then moved east again and stable today at 153W. The 24 deg isotherm was 125 meters deep at 140W then getting progressively shallower east of there but now pushing into Ecuador. Anomaly wise warm anomalies are filling the entire subsurface Pacific with temps starting to rebuild in the West Pacific at +4 degs at 180W (Possible Kelvin Wave #3). Temps fade to +2 degs east of there only to rebuild to +3-4 degs (Kelvin Wave #2) starting at 135W and peaking at 100W down 50 meters then pushing into the coast of Ecuador. It appears Kelvin Wave #2 is fading out in the East Pacific while Kevin Wave #3 is building under the dateline. The peak of the Kelvin Wave cycle for this supposed El Nino has already occurred, but upwelling from it is still to be ongoing for a few more weeks. And if Kelvin Wave #3 is building, it wouldn't reach Ecuador for 3+ months, or mid- March and even then not reaching the Nino3.4 region, meaning there's no real support to feed jetstream core energy after that during the 2018/2019 winter cycle. The hi-res GODAS animation posted 11/29 paints the same picture with the Kelvin Wave #2 starting in the Central Pacific near 130W pushing into Ecuador with temps peaking at +5.0 degs at 100W. Modest warming was also building at +3 degs under the dateline (Kelvin Wave #3). Kelvin Wave #2 was breaching the surface from 90W to 155W solidly with secondary warm anomalies west from there to 165E. The GODAS animation appears to be 1 week behind the TAO data but also is more detailed and accurately modeled.
Sea Level Anomalies: (11/29) Positive anomalies were solid from the interior Maritime Continent tracking east, over an area north of New Guinea at +5 cms centered on the dateline. A bit of break occurred east of there at 160W, then rebuilding to +5 cms at 150W and holding solid over the equator the whole way into the East Pacific and Ecuador. There were no longer any pockets of +10 cms. Kelvin Wave (#2) was steady from 150W to Ecuador and branching north to Baja and south to Southern Peru along the coasts there, a good sign.

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: (12/4) The latest images (1.2 3.4) indicate temps were warm in a Kelvin Wave pattern straddling 5 degrees north and south of the equator from Ecuador west to the dateline, with one imbedded pocket of stronger warming centered at 110W. There is a steady stream of moderate warming along the coast of Chile up into Peru and Ecuador and a bit weaker reaching north to Central America, but nothing indicative of a strong trend towards El Nino, and more just like a modest El Nino. Generic warm anomalies were north of the equator from Central America and south of Mexico building out to Hawaii and the dateline. A pocket of cool waters was elongated east to west off Peru to 130W. This pattern looks somewhat like El Nino, but also like La Nina with no solid warming branching north and south along the Central and South American coast, and most warming still in the West Pacific centered at 140W, suggesting this developing El Nino is only weakly in control and still fragile at best in the East Equatorial Pacific as it has been for weeks.
Hi-res 7 day Trend (12/4): No pockets of cooling were present over the equator. Instead a thin stream of generic warming was indicated along the equator with imbedded stronger pockets and a weaker but broader warming pattern was building along the coast of Chile and Peru. Overall a steady pattern is indicated.
Hi-res Overview: (12/4) Weak warm water was building along the immediate coast of Chile and Peru. Otherwise moderate plus warm water was on the equator from Ecuador over the Galapagos building out to the dateline with one stronger pocket of warming at 110W. We have turned the corner to a warm regime. And one could kinda think we are moving towards a El Nino pattern just looking at the surface temps. But that would be a false conclusion based on what is going on sub-surface (fading Kelvin Wave scenario). And given the time of year, the warm signal on the surface should be much stronger if El Nino were truly developing. We are in ENSO neutral biased warm and likely only going to move to a minimal warm regime, likely not reaching full El Nino status this winter.
Nino1.2 Daily CDAS Index Temps: (12/5) Today's temps were falling from +1.534 on 11/27 to +0.522 on 12/3 and down to +0.212 today. That peak on 11/27 beat the previous peak on 9/25 at +1.316. A warming trend was building until about the end of Nov but has been downward since.
Nino 3.4 Daily CDAS Index Temps:
(12/5) Today temps were rising at +0.991 degs up from +0.825 on 11/28 and steady 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. Overall temps are noodling around at +0.5 to +0.7 degs above normal adding suggesting some sort of minimally weak El Nino is trying to develop, but nothing serious.

Click for Full Sized Image

CFSV2 Forecast for Nino3.4 SST Anomalies

SST Anomaly Projections
CFSv2 Uncorrected Data (12/4) The model indicates temps at +0.8 degs in mid-Nov (which isn't even close to reality - they were about +0.5) then rising some to +1.1 on Dec 1 (in reality +0.6 degs) and then forecast building to +1.25 in April 2019, then falling to +1.00 degs into July 2019 and steady from there into Aug. If one is to believe the model then one would assume that El Nino is to build in the Winter of 18/19. But given all the data we've seen, we believe odds of weak El Nino are more likely. Most models are suggesting a turn to weak El Nino conditions by late Fall. It's not certain we're there yet.
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) (12/5): The daily index was rising some at 8.46. The 30 day average was rising again to 2.15 suggesting a neutral MJO. The 90 day average was rising some at -1.06, rising the past 3 weeks and the highest its been in months. The 90 degree average turned negative for the first time in a year on 6/30 suggesting a neutral ENSO pattern was building in the atmosphere. Unfortunately we have made no progress from there towards a negative El Nino pattern.
ESPI Index (like SOI but based on satellite confirmed precipitation. Positive and/or rising is good, negative and/or falling is bad): (12/5) The index has risen slightly from at +0.03 on 12/3 to +0.12 today, just barely positive and not as strong as it should be if El Nino were developing. Typically El Nino peaks in late December. If that is the case in this years event, then there's no way we're going to move into a legit El Nino this winter. It was down to -0.22 the week of 10/22, after having risen to +0.39 on 10/10, the highest so far this event. This suggests that precip and evaporation are normal, and not above normal as one would expect if El Nino were in play. We are in an ENSO neutral pattern. The reading from 8/14 (+0.11) was the first time it's turned positive in a year.
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

Powerlinessurf Jeff Clark Inside Mavericks

Local Interest

Stormsurf Video Surf Forecast for the week starting Sunday (12/2):
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Powerline Productions New Movie Preimer - Next Level - Friday (11/9) at 7 PM. Details here:

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Stormsurf and Mavericks on HBO Sports with Bryant Gumbel

Mavericks Invitational Pieces Featuring Stormsurf:

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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table


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