Forecaster Blog: Hawaii Forecast

18 Nov 2014 1 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued 3.00pm, Tuesday, 18 November 2014

It’s around this time of year the greener surfing pastures of Hawaii start to beckon. By late spring, surf quality across Australia’s East Coast is usually on the sub-side of par, with prevailing onshore winds and shattered sand-banks offering little in the way of board riding inspiration. At the same time a digital influx of images and vision streaming out of Oahu’s North Shore (the most recent being the four consecutive days of pumping surf at the Reef Hawaiian Pro at Haleiwa) begin to crystallise a feeling of, well, quite frankly, being on the wrong side of the planet. In that context, I’ll be posting a weekly forecast focussing on the North Shore that will run through to the end of the ASP contest season and perhaps into January and February next year.

The early season on the North Shore is already in full swing and it's set to keep pumping into late November. Photo: ASP/ Kirstin.

The early season on the North Shore is already in full swing and it's set to keep pumping into late November. Photo: ASP/ Kirstin.

OVERVIEW
Surf heights ramped up into the 6 to 8ft plus range across the North Shore with the arrival of a new NW groundswell during Monday 17 (that’s Tuesday 18 our time); marking an interim peak in size preceding a fairly steep overnight drop in size to around 4 to 6ft on Tuesday. This is linked to a relatively close range low pressure system that traversed swiftly eastward through Hawaii’s swell window last Friday before moving out of range of the Islands last weekend. The rapid passage of this system should see a steep drop-off in wave energy throughout Tuesday; fading into the 3 to 4ft range during the afternoon.

The abating NW swell is reinforced by a new round of mid period NW swell midweek; commencing at relatively low levels on Wednesday morning ahead of a stronger push during the afternoon. This should maintain good 4ft plus sets across the North Shore throughout Thursday 20 and Friday 21 under lighter easterly trade-winds, producing full days of good conditions.  The source of this smaller-scale run of NW swell is a series of lows within a broader low pressure complex tracking rapidly east to west across the northwest Pacific on Monday and Tuesday; supporting low-end zonal gales in the 25 to 35 knot range.

A larger, winter scale low setting up over the North Pacific this Friday and over the weekend is the source of a larger NW groundswell due to arrive around November 24. Source: NOAA.

A larger, winter scale low setting up over the North Pacific this Friday and over the weekend is the source of a larger NW groundswell due to arrive around November 24. Source: NOAA.

LONG RANGE
The tail end of this episode should hang in at lower levels on Saturday and substantially fade out by Sunday morning. However, Sunday also sees the leading edge of a new NW groundswell overlapping with the older swell and this should quickly emerge as the dominant swell train during the afternoon. This episode follows the development of a larger low pressure system projected to consolidate and intensify over the North Pacific over the next few days, giving rise to a broader area of gales across its lower flank throughout Thursday and Friday. This is backed up by another low forming further west before tracking swiftly east over the weekend to give rise to another strong round of NW groundswell – the end result being two strong, overlapping pulses exhibiting strong peak intervals of 14 to 15 seconds. The leading edge of the first pulse should kick in throughout the afternoon of Sunday 23 and holding at strong 6 to 10ft levels on Monday 24 (just in time for the start of the Vans World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach). The leading edge of the second pulse is due to start filling in early on Tuesday 25, but for the time being diverging computer modelled scenarios lend some uncertainty to the size and timing of this second pulse.


North Shore Oahu Forecast Summary (Forecast surf heights are in the Hawaiin scale).

Tuesday 18
NW groundswell 4 – 6ft exposed breaks early, easing to 3 – 4ft plus during the afternoon. WIND: ENE to 15 knots.

Wednesday 19
NW swell. Sets to 2 – 4ft exposed breaks early, easing during the afternoon. WIND: ENE 10 to 20 knots.

Thursday 20
NW swell. Sets to 3 – 4ft early, building to 4 - 5ft+ exposed breaks during the afternoon. WIND: ENE 10 to 15 knots.

Friday 21
Mid period NW swell. 4 – 5ft exposed breaks. WIND: Early light and variable tending light E to 5 to 10 knots.

Saturday 22
NW swell. Sets to 3 - 5ft exposed breaks. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE to SSE 5 to 10 knots.

Sunday 23
New NW groundswell builds in. 2 – 4ft early, rising to 6 – 8ft during the afternoon. Grading smaller elsewhere depending on exposure. WIND: Light and variable.


 


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