Atlantic Cyclogenesis: Birth of a Superstorm

Ben Freeston

by on

Updated 2122d ago

Develoment of Atlantic Hurricane Force low, Hurricane Fay, & Hurricane Gonzalo

© 2020 - NWS

Nature as Art. The animated birth, or cyclogenesis, of an Atlantic superstorm pieced together from satellite scans. This fascinating video shows not only the development of the large scale low that'll be bringing surf to the whole of west facing Europe over the next few days, but also the remnants of Hurricanes Fay and a fledgling Hurricane Gonzalo.

It's a sublime concept - that tiny perturbations in fault line between warm and cold air can build and grow into something at such macro scale that it pushes the limits of our technology to be able to even visualise it. This giant storm then creates thousands of waves of energy which, back on the micro scale, will tuck into every west facing European beach and cove as breaking waves.

From the romantic to the practical; this storm is looking like great news for surfers, albeit with some issues. It meets all the criteria for developing substantial swell - a huge scale, hurricane force winds and an almost stationary position forecast, allowing the maximum possible time for swell to develop. Dropping 24 millibars in 24 hours to give an area of over 800 nautical miles of gale force conditions, with hurricane force winds over a large area the latest readings are for waves in the 40ft range. Model guidance suggests it'll join forces with a small low pressure system moving out of the Labrador Sea over the next 24hrs. This'll prolong the event and should mean the best part of a week of solid swell.

The issues are it's proximity to the Western European coastline and the south westerly air flow that'll create. This is compounded in Portugal through Northern Spain and onto the French coast by another small low pressure centre along the southern edge of the system that'll intensify these winds here.

The storm as we write.

The storm as we write.

© 2020 - MSW

For the west facing beach at Supertubos this'll create problems for competition. As we mentioned in our Unofficial Forecast it's a fickle break and to get swell coupled with onshore wind is not uncommon. Once again the choice is a move to the north facing beaches versus a gamble on a potential window for lighter winds and contestable swell once this storm moves away to the North. Not an easy decision.

For the rest of us with a little shelter and a little luck plenty of chance to get in the water over the next few days. Northern Spain probably being the pick of the bunch for the sort of conditions most of us seek: The westerly aspect of the swell will limit things for size and keep most spots in the recreational surf range, all coupled with the dominant offshore winds on this north facing coastline.

All sessions from this swell are eligible for The Winter Session. The holding period kicked off on Oct 1st and runs through till Feb 2015. To enter download the sting HERE and send your 90 second edit via to: and we'll do the rest.