Hurricane Cristobal Surf Outlook

Ed Temperley

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The rough forecast track for Hurricane Cristobal including extra tropical transition.

The rough forecast track for Hurricane Cristobal including extra tropical transition.

Update August 27

Hurricane Cristobal is currently spinning out surf off the East Coast and is forecast to head over the Atlantic Ridge towards Europe where it should provide a wave for western Atlantic coasts.

Now that Cristobal has overcome the areas with intense wind shear, it continues developing along a upper trough, moving along a well defined trajectory. Most models now agree that Cristobal should maintain hurricane force winds, even in cooler waters, and continue as an extratropical cyclone. However despite good model agreement on Cristobal's extratropical cyclone phase, it does not mean that this will happen exactly as currently forecast given the number of factors at play in the transition from a warm to cold core system. Like we saw just a few weeks ago with Bertha, these type of systems are highly complex and a small alteration can change the outcome completely.

At present (Aug 27) and following a period of uncertain formation, deep convection has redeveloped near the centre of Cristobal and whilst the initial intensity remains 70 kt, there is still some potential for Cristobal to strengthen during the coming hours before it begins extratropical transition, which should be complete after 48 hours. Cristobal is expected to be a powerful extratropical cyclone by Friday night or Saturday, and then slowly weaken before being absorbed by another cyclone at the end of the period.

All of the guidance is unanimous in turning Cristobal north-northeastward and then northeastward during the next 24 hours and accelerating the cyclone into the mid-latitude westerlies. A continued northeasterly motion is expected through the remainder of the cyclone's life cycle. The track model guidance is tightly clustered with the new NHC track in close consensus to the GFS and ECMWF models through 72 hours, and a little south of that consensus at 96 hours.

Surf Outlook

US Coast:
- Most spots will see the swell peaking on Wednesday, but accompanied with strong winds for many areas.
- The northern United States should expected the peak on Thursday. At this time it isn't totally clear how the wind conditions will be during the morning, but a window of opportunity is expected before the wind intensifies during the afternoon.

Europe
- Although already in a declining phase Cristobal's passage towards Iceland should be enough to send swell to most westerly exposed European spots.
- Most models now show good agreement on the storm path and intensification.
- Ireland and England should see the first pulse of Cristobal next Monday, while the French coast should see the swell peaking overnight.
- Despite not promising huge numbers, this long period swell should be enough to get you down the beach

This swell period chart gives a good impression of the high period propagation from the hurricane swell, however the size will not be breaking records.

This swell period chart gives a good impression of the high period propagation from the hurricane swell, however the size will not be breaking records.

If you surf Hurricane Cristobal please upload your images here.


Ed Temperley

MSW editor. Twitter @edtemperley