Big Picture

SNN BIG PICTURE: Monday 11/12/18 + latest El Nino Update


The Jetstream’s river of wind up with the Airlines above 30,000ft flows west to east ‘round the planet. It has a huge impact on climate, weather, and airmass (Lows and Highs) which help create and steer storms that bring us waves.

Early Nov shows a consolidation + greatest force of only 140kts building to 160kts this weekend from the west to central Pacific up near the Aleutians. There’s a High far to our NE and another is to our NW.  The Jet flow starts with a slight ESE tilt then really troughs SE up against the High this weekend. The pressure gradient above and at the surface allows for some long-term sizable NNW to North episodes. By next week Tuesday the Jet is very weak and broken again although the Jet drops in latitude coming off Japan Thursday with only 110kts; maybe this can power up fo some solid action at the surface.

Recent-Current: Today Monday the 12th shows a fair but faded 3-5′ + from the N to NNW with better winds for the Hawaiian Pro Day-1.   Saturday had utter 5-7’ onshore trash with brown water adv. most everywhere and Sunday wasn’t a lot better.


A new Low in the central Pac which will send a bit more of its swell to our east than model original output. The storm intensified as it tracked down from the Bering Sea by this past Sunday with an SE track and 30’ seas. The fetch is captured (moving the same way as the Lows center track) thus winds are maximized but not all pointing at Hawaii directly. The system semi occludes (becomes vertically stacked from the surface to the upper levels) slowing the system down and giving it more time to build its swell. It’s still going to be a one-two punch. But about 20% smaller than we hoped.  The combo fetch is still long & broad and noses to under 1000 miles to our North before tracking away to the east. The result will be a long-lasting above advisory NNW filling 3pm Tuesday to about 3-5’ and even 7’ by the eve session. Wednesday will hold about 6-10′ local or near 10-18’ “crest to trough” at select reefs. Ali’i will be about 4-6+’ or just over double overhead;  winds will be light Trades; onshore seabreezes likely toward midday.


A fun 6-8+’ NNW at 14 sec filling Friday the 16th possibly a few 10′ sets in the afternoon. Haleiwa will like this swell with some 4-6+’ to get out of it. Trades will be back to normal. The surf should be easing from a more NNW to 6′ Saturday at 12seconds and moderate ENE trades. The source is a small Low with mostly 20′ seas nearing and crossing the dateline Tuesday-Wednesday. The key is the proximity of the fetch which gets to under 900miles to our NNW.


Models hint at a possible small-moderate 2-4’ NW at 15sec Tuesday the 20th holding into Wednesday. The swell source is tracking ESE off Kamchatka Friday the 16th with some 20′ seas. The storm ends up going East and crossing the dateline Saturday as it weakens.


A possible 6-8′ NW could fill in Sat the 24th. There’s a bunch of Lows on the charts Tuesday the 20th that are modeled to merge into a large Low tracking ENE from Wed. the 21st. The limiting factor is the ENE track; we needed an ESE…It’s a long way out too so let’s see if things turn around for the better and Bigger.

Latest ENSO Status Nov 8th -We’re still under an El Nino Watch (it will be weak).

Once El Niño develops, the alert level will rise to “El Niño Advisory,”

Our entire natural climate cycle is officially known as El Niño – the Southern Oscillation (ENSO). It swings between warmer and cooler seawater in the tropical Pacific. This cycle is the primary factor government scientists consider when announcing their winter weather forecast.

The latest report from the Climate Prediction Center. There’s now about an 80% chance of El Niño onset during the Northern Hemi winter 2018-19. A 50-60% chance into Spring. El Nino is an irregularly occurring & complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region and beyond every few years, typically in late December. Abnormally warm water northern Peru and Ecuador leads to more energy in the atmosphere thus more storms.

The cooler pattern, known as La Niña, has been dominant the past two winters. The last recent El Niño gave us the EPIC winter of 2015-16. That was a particularly strong episode, which led to weather-related crop damage, fires and flash floods but also some of the biggest, most consistent surf in a decade.

SPAC: Background swells keep coming but Nov still can’t hold a candle to Oct.

The Jetstream starts off this weekend as it has the last week…weak & wild (all over the place) and with the exception from last Friday-Saturday; one ENE flow in the Taz and it’s associated East bound BIG Low (read below). Though there was one meridional flow under Easter Island, it’s Low pointed just out of our swell window.  The Southern Jet does try to improve this 7 day period and does help to spawn some minor mostly zonal surface Lows. Not bad considering the calendar.


It’s been very small 1-2’. Though we did see a few isolated chest high SSW sets earlier last week from a system at the NE tip of New Z Nov 1st


A better shot of long period TAZ tried to get in the works this weekend thanks to a large Low with 55kts over a week ago deep in the Taz sea. Its limiting factor is the zonal or west to east track. We see some 1.5’ swell at it peaked Sunday-Monday at 15 seconds. Still the surf just 2′ tops.


 A new ENE bound Low far off the New Z coast is on the models last Tuesday Nov 6th with some 24-28’ seas. It doesn’t last more than a day or so, plus the track is mostly East thus shortening the fetch length. Let’s hope for some 2’ SSW surf at 15 seconds by Wednesday the 14th.

Last: Another mediocre Low far off the east coast of New Z. and way down by the Ice shelf. It has some 35-40kts pointing ENE but due to distance just 22’ seas we wont likely see more than 2’ out this from the SSW Wed. the 21st.

Windward Shores: 

It’s been below average as far as E to NE swell go. Surf’s been mostly 2’ and up to 3’ from some North wrap and upstream trade mixes.

Surf were enhanced a bit as post frontal NNE Winds ramped and veered into NE Trades Sunday. More power and size came from the North swell vs windswell.

The Surf will remain small into mid-Nov as the High’s ridge stays fairly close by due to the Lows pushing the High closer. Trade swell will then return to normal around Friday the 16th.


Nothing for the EPAC, Central Pac nor the WPAC


Surf Climatology HERE

NWS criteria for High Surf Advisories (first number) & Warnings (second number).

All surf height observations & forecasts are for full ‘face’ surf height, or ‘trough to the crest’ of the wave.

North-Facing Shores 15 Feet and 25 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Remaining Islands 12 Feet and 20 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Big Island 8 Feet and 12 Feet

South-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

East-Facing Shores 8 Feet and 15 Feet

Get the latest Central Pac Hawaii HERE

Common Terms:  split Jetstream

blocking ridge

short-wave tough

Note: Spectral density graph in the SNN Buoy Page HERE can show ‘slivers’ of forerunners that initial text readings of new swells which often do not ‘show’ till later on written/text buoy updates. Also, note the vertical graph is not ‘wave height’ rather its a measure of wave energy in hertz (frequency or cycles/sec) for the whole ‘band’ (the distribution of power/period in the total wave energy field/spectrum).

For the SNN Buoys ‘per shore’ arrangement  GO HERE

Links: Get the latest on the Eastern North Pac GO HERE 

For more on the West Pac Typhoons GO HERE

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