An XXL Forecast Winner

Ben Freeston

by on

Updated 1703d ago

The best surf competition of all time? Some of the best waves ever ridden anywhere? How about one of the most nailed on XXL forecasts we can remember seeing? The models really scored this time, calling for the big wave conditions we saw at Peahi with uncanny accuracy exactly two weeks before the finals ran.

The super swell forecast as of the 15th October, exactly two weeks before the finals compared to the actual storm as it rolled through.

The super swell forecast as of the 15th October, exactly two weeks before the finals compared to the actual storm as it rolled through.

Long range modelling is hamstrung by the chaotic, non-linear nature of atmospheric processes. The idea that a change as tiny as the flap of a butterfly's wing could prompt effects as broad as a hurricane is derived from weather forecasting, and applied to anywhere where chaotic systems rule. It's the reason that forecasting the storms that create surf is much more difficult than calculating their travel through the oceans. Which itself is the reason that we can reliably predict waves from distant storms at longer range than from nearby hits.

So when we see a chart depicting an ex-typhoon mutating into a black-hearted Aleutian XXL monster, we're at least cautious and very aware of the alternative scenarios. Especially since the US Atmospheric model (which drives most of our forecasts) was calling for a typhoon that hadn't even been birthed yet. Nonetheless this chart, of October 15, was prescient in almost every detail. Charting the evolution of the tropical storm, it's transition into a cold core beast and the timings and arrival of that swell on the reef at Jaws.

Congratulations to the WSL and BWT commissioner Mike Parsons for trusting in the data: While they were smart not to make a call on charts this far out it would have been easy to fall into the 'it's too early in the season' narrative as the situation became clearer, rather than properly weigh the data at hand.

Most interesting early season XXL storm? October 9, 1979 hit 50ft on the North Shore of Oahu!

Follow me on instagram to get the latest long range model charts picked apart.