Strike Four on Saturday is an absolute monster, forecast to be the largest and perhaps most damaging yet with poor surfing prospects. Similar to today's storm it's likely to do little but wreak havoc on already hard pressed communities in Northern Europe. It's hard to maintain unbridled passion for surf in the face of severe coastal destruction. Take a moment to reflect on the damage and, perhaps, hope that enough is enough for this winter at least.
The story of these recent swells is one of coastal destruction. Where Hercules set up prime surfing conditions in much of Europe, these storms which followed have brought little in the way of great surf for most of us. Instead we've witnessed the continuing rapid erosion of sand and cliffs, direct damage to structures and buildings, and ongoing coastal flooding. Much of this is attributed only indirectly to the giant waves but much more a function of huge astronomical tides (caused by the alignment of moon and sun and the moon being particularly close to the Earth) and as importantly a large storm surge.
This surge is set up by three main mechanisms associated with the giant storms that have created such large waves and strong winds: the first is simply the low pressure in the storm lifting the surface of the water above its normal level. Secondly the wind (gusting up to 90mph near the coast here) creates a 'wind set-up' – simply pushing water in front of it towards the coast. Thirdly the waves themselves generate a rise in the sea level as they break in shallow water. Where the past couple of storms have seen tides near their absolute maximum, today's storm arrived with a more typical spring range tide. None the less taking these extra effects into consideration we saw coastal defences breached and considerable additional damage.
The only good news for coastal communities already suffering is a return to neap tides almost 1.5m/5ft smaller than we saw at the peak of that last swell which should go some way to mitigating wave action.
Forecast heights at peak of the swell at Sennen / Seven Stones Lightship, Cornwall, England
Hercules (6th Jan): 28ft@21 seconds
Take Two (1st Feb): 28ft@19 seconds
Brigid (5th Feb): 30ft@18 seconds
Strike Four (8th Feb): 35ft@19 seconds
*Anyone surfing/shooting this storm or interested in press please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also sessions from this swell with be eligible to enter The Winter Session, so don’t forget to document them. To enter send your edit via wetransfer.com to: email@example.com.