UPDATE: Thursday Jan 6: Here we go. This could be on from Friday eve and all day Saturday, then Sunday too. Truly gignatic Nazare? Spectacular A-frame peaks? This thing is really shaping up. But let's kick it over again to MSW's Tony Butt to get the skinny on what's going down.
"That low is now centred just east of Iceland, as predicted, after explosively deepening as it moved from Newfoundland out into the open Atlantic during Wednesday. It reached peak intensity earlier this morning (Thursday) at around 932 mb and is now starting to gradually weaken.
"Wave heights in the open ocean are currently over 20 feet over a huge area covering almost the entire northern third of the Atlantic, with a core area south of Iceland containing wave heights of up to 50 feet. Southern Iceland itself is already getting truly hell-like conditions, while the swell is just about to hit westerly exposures in Ireland. The swell will progressively hit other areas within the next 12 to 24 hours.
"The swell is due to last till the end of the weekend before ramping down, with a boost from a secondary low pressure that develops off newfoundland on Friday and moves quickly ENE.
"An area of high pressure currently over the Azores will move eastwards over the next few days, expected just west of Portugal by late Saturday. This will improve local conditions, particularly in Portugal.
"Starting in the far north of Scotland, the swell arrives from the west on Friday and continues through till Sunday, with wave heights up to ten feet or more at westerly exposures, dropping for a while on Saturday. Winds are moderate west at first, then southwest, becoming light and variable by Sunday.
"In Ireland, wave heights are humungous throughout, exceeding 20 feet at exposed spots on Friday and Saturday and dropping from Sunday afternoon, with strong to gale-force westerly winds for most of the time, calming down a bit later on Sunday.
"In southwest UK, expect large, ragged surf with strong to gale-force westerly winds throughout. Wave heights peak on Friday, exceeding ten feet at westerly exposures, before dropping a notch over the weekend and remaining very lumpy.
"In southwest France, the swell arrives later on Friday, picking up to 15 feet or so, with strong westerly winds for most of the weekend. The swell is still big on Monday morning, before dropping slowly, with much better conditions in light easterly winds.
"At less-exposed spots in northern Spain, such as Mundaka, you might get a respite on Saturday afternoon from the persistent west or northwest winds.
"In the far northwest of Spain, wave heights exceed 15 feet at exposed spots, peaking on Friday and then again on Sunday, winds are fresh northerlies at first, becoming moderate west or southwest later.
"Portugal is probably the best bet for this swell, as that high encroaches over the weekend, allowing the bulk of the swell to coincide with the best wind conditions. At Nazaré, the northwest swell direction is good, which should mean some truly gigantic A-frames. The swell arrives late Friday and continues through till Sunday and beyond, with offshore wave heights between ten and 15 feet, but much bigger at Nazaré. Winds are fresh northerlies on Friday, but becoming much lighter over the weekend.
"Down into Morocco, the swell also hits, peaking late Saturday at eight feet or so, accompanied by northeast trades throughout. Expect some great surf at southwest-facing pointbreaks."
Stay tuned for more coverage.
Earlier, Tuesday Jan 4: We've barely lifted the curtain on 2022 and already the Old Continent is bracing for a XXL run of swell – and if this forecast holds, we could see Nazare go full on beast mode.
Fireworks in Portugal should start on Friday – but Saturday may be the main event. We're talking a 13ft@18 second swell, rifling in from that diamond north west angle. The wind is onshore but light at the moment but best to keep an eye on the forecast and we'll update this article as it gets closer to D-Day.
The rest of Europe? Well, yeah, it's going to be pretty special, too. Let's let MSW's resident wave wizard Tony Butt take it away – because honestly, there is a lot going on here.
“The North Atlantic chart is currently showing a fast-developing low just off Newfoundland, and a largish high over the Azores,” he said.
“Over the next 24 hours, while the high pretty much stays unchanged in the same position, the low moves rapidly northeast and deepens by around 50 mb, which more than double qualifies it for the term explosive cyclogenesis (oh it is a funky term – but it's simple; it means when the pressure of a storm drops more than 24mb in 24 hours, more HERE!)
“It continues to deepen until early Thursday, reaching an impressive 928 mb southwest of Iceland.
Live Cam: Nazare
“A huge area of strong wind on its southern flank generates open-ocean wave heights of more than 30 feet, occupying a large part of the North Atlantic. This, in turn, leads to massive, ragged surf for westerly exposures in the northwest, in addition to sending a pulse of long-period swell further south and around to the far north.”
And when does that swell, out in the North Atlantic, reach shore? “The swell first arrives late Thursday, while, at the same time, a second area of low pressure develops and arcs around the northern periphery of that high,” said Tony – and yeah, we said there's a lot going on here.
“This maintains those strong winds in the north of the North Atlantic, and extending the swell over next weekend and beyond.”
Forecast Breakdown by Area
In the far north of Scotland, the swell arrives from the west on Friday and continues through till Sunday, with wave heights up to ten feet or more at westerly exposures and the possibility of winds from a southerly quarter on Friday and Sunday.
In Ireland, wave heights are humungous, exceeding 20 feet at exposed spots on Friday and Saturday and dropping slightly on Sunday, with strong westerly winds for most of the time.
In southwest UK, it’s a similar story, with large surf and westerly winds throughout. Wave heights at exposed spots on Friday are a ragged ten feet or so.
Live Cam: Mundaka
In the far northwest of Spain, wave heights exceed 15 feet at exposed spots, gradually dropping over the weekend, and winds are fresh northerlies at first, off the eastern flank of that high, becoming moderate westerlies later.
In Portugal, the swell arrives late Friday and continues through till Sunday and beyond, with Nazaré well over 20 feet. The swell direction is good, so expect some spectacular A-frames. Winds are mostly fresh northerlies, but there could be a window of lighter winds on Saturday.
Down into Morocco, the swell also hits, peaking on Saturday at eight feet or so at exposed spots, accompanied by northeast trades throughout.