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South Swell Rewind: Teahupoo and Puerto Lineup

by on Wednesday 29th May, 2013   19436 Visits   Comments

Here you can see the great circles of swell heading towards Tahiti and Teahupoo for the weekend. And just as importantly that that the bulk of the energy is heading towards the Americas. © 2014 magicseaweed

HOLD onto your jetskis, the South Pacific is at it again. We have a predictable run of suspects to the last lineup: Teahupoo is looking at a storm/swell of a similar(ish) size to the Blood in the Water swell of mid-May. The differentiating factor this time is that Central America will get a great deal more love, which we all know means massive Puerto Escondido. Also further south look for Punta de Lobos, currently on yellow alert for the Big Wave World Tour season kicking-off at the Quiksilver Ceremonial/ on June 4th.

This same swell head forecaster, Ben Freeston, thought looked a lot like a monkey a week ago has intensified into a raging black-hearted blob. Sadly a few days premature for the Fiji Pro, Cloudbreak, is copping a broadside on Thursday, May 30th from the first stirrings of this behemoth. Teahupoo will peak at the weekend (with possible blustery trades), before a week hence when Puerto Escondido will pump from Wednesday, June 5th. The big game hunting begins anew.

Teahupoo on May 14th 2013, Alain Riou called this "The biggest wave of my life". © 2014 Mike Jones

MSW forecaster Francisco Silva breaks it down:

“This storm will closely mirror the evolution of the system which delivered that last massive swell to Teahupoo. However, within the system itself, we find a few aspects which are important to emphasise. The basic regional configuration is similar, the storm is generating southeast of New Zealand and the presence of a westerly strong high pressure system amplifies the fetch. These huge days at big wave spots are all about the details, and even though some local aspects need to be taken in to consideration, it is exactly at this stage, the storm development phase, that all cards are drawn on the table and every detail is of huge importance.

For this storm we should focus on a few particular aspects that will have a great impact on the final outcome.Francisco Silva

“For this storm we should focus on a few particular aspects that will have a great impact on the final outcome. Firstly, we need to analyze the fetch available on each case. This storm, despite not having big areas of 60+ kts, has a much longer area of 40+ kts winds, but that, in contrast with the last storm, is elongated (North-South). This has a severe impact on the wind fetch window. As we mentioned before, the angular dispersion has a huge impact on the wave field generated far from the breaking point. Nevertheless, the elongated fetch also has some benefits, as it enables a much longer dynamical fetch, which means that as the storm continues its movement east, the fetch area is moving along with the waves that are being generated, increasing the amount of energy transferred to the surface of the ocean.

Despite having a very good evolutionary track, the same cannot be said for its speed. The storm does not evolve slowly enough to amplify the effect of the increased fetch (by the dynamical fetch effect) an important role in the wave growth. This will also have an impact on the swell’s time-frame. Mid-May’s swell at Teahupo saw three days of solid swell, mostly due to the slowly evolution of the storm, whereas this week we are only expecting one solid day or two max.

Here you see a period chart perfectly illustrating the wide band of long period swell hitting the Americas on June 5th. If anyone ever tells you that you can't forecast with accuracy more than a week ahead - shoot them in the head. © 2014 magicseaweed

What started as two distinct low pressure systems evolves into one big low pressure region. This fact will produce a massive area of fetch directly pointed at Central/Southern America.Francisco Silva

“As the storm continues East, what started as two distinct low pressure systems evolves into one big low pressure region. This fact will produce a massive area of fetch directly pointed at Central/Southern America.  Now, with a more stable high pressure barrier around the Equador, the storm track evolution slows down in pace. That decrease in speed, alied with the huge and intense wind-field will produce waves above 45ft at its maximum. This is really important for all the big wave spots along the Central/Southern America. For a spot like Puerto Escondido, it’s important that the center of the storm is not located too far away, otherwise during the swell’s propagation we would see a drastic decrease in wave height. We expect the forerrunners to start arriving next Wednesday to this location.”

This is Puerto Escondido from August 2012 on a smaller swell than the one forecast... How we love constructive interference. © 2014 Noam Eshel

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