Contrary to previous concerns that the storm pattern might move in to a less productive mode, the models are now suggesting a continuation of a relatively active storm track. All this is being fueled by the Active Phase of the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO).
The upper levels of the atmosphere continue to remain favorable to the formation of storm development. The jetstream continues to produce a single consolidated flow pushing east off Japan with winds topping out at near 200 kts.
The forecast suggests this pattern is to hold into Thursday (1/31) with the core of those winds easing closer to Hawaii, but with only a small trough digging out offering no support for large-scale storm production. A short break is forecast with a new pocket of 170 kts winds pushing off Japan next weekend and a more defined trough possibly developing.
Down closer to the ocean’s surface on Sunday (1/21) a small gale developed just northwest of the Hawaiian Islands producing 30-32 foot seas a mere 900-1100 nmiles out and aimed well at Maui. Swell will arrive in short order but less than the minimum size required to be contestable.
A second very compact storm is forecast developing west of the dateline Tuesday (1/29) taking an essentially flat track east heading towards the Gulf of Alaska through Thurs (1/31) generating 40-43 foot seas all the way. The issue with this one is its flat eastern trajectory. This results in all swell energy heading in the same direction the storm is traveling with little energy expected to push southeast towards Hawaii.
Of somewhat more interest is a far broader system forecast developing off Japan on Sun (2/3) looking to take a slightly more southeastern track with seas projected in the 34 foot range. But that is nearly a week out, and hardly believable at this early date. Still, it is worth monitoring.
The MJO, which one monitors to determine long-term storm production trends, remains in the Active Phase and supportive of storm production. The model suggests some ambiguity regarding how much longer this pattern will continue. But the consensus at this time is somewhere between 1.5-2 more weeks. As with any long-term model, the results should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. Regardless, the pattern is positive now and is looking to hold for at least the next week, if not more.
Surface Pressure and Wind
Notice a consolidated jetstream pushing off Japan with winds reaching 190 kts on the dateline early Wednesday. These winds would be supportive of storm development in lower levels of the atmosphere if they were configured more trough-like (i.e. digging southward). Instead they are relatively flat, offering only limited support for gale development.
Significant Wave Height
At the same time notice a tiny storm tracking flat east over the dateline. Little wind and swell energy is focused southeast targeting the Hawaiian Islands. This system is very similar to 3 others that have followed this same track over the past week. The pattern is productive, but the trajectory is not quite right. Yet another broader system is modeled perhaps taking a more southeasterly track a week out.