UPDATE, Friday September 9: There's no stopping Hurricane Danielle now, a licking of swell will lap into the UK and the rest of Europe over the next 24 hours.
This isn't anything epic mind -- but one for the every surfer, a good, chest-to-shoulder high day across south west UK and Ireland, coupled with some cross/onshore wind, switching lighter and offshore towards the evening on Saturday [September 10]. But here's MSW forecaster Tony Butt to break it down.
"Between Tuesday September 7 and Thursday 9th, Hurricane Danielle intensified as it moved past to the north of the Azores. An area of strong winds on its southern flank generated a pulse of west swell that is starting to affect extreme westerly exposures in mainland Europe, like Galicia, Portugal and southwest Ireland.
"The swell will filter into Biscay overnight, struggling to reach the north coast of Spain apart from exposed spots on the west sides of peninsulas, but producing some good surf in southwest France. It will also filter into the Celtic Sea, generating some surf in southwest UK. Most places peak on Saturday and then drop through Sunday.
"In southwest Ireland, for example, some good surf on Saturday, around five feet or so at west and southwest exposures, with moderate southeast winds.
In Cornwall, wave heights around three or four feet at exposed spots, with light northerly winds -- and could be the best bet for this swell.
Meanwhile, down southwest France, the swell increases later on Saturday, hitting four or five feet around Hossegor, continuing into Sunday, with moderate easterly winds in the morning that switch northerly towards the evening.
Danielle is now a post-tropical system, centred about 1,500 miles north of the Azores, expected to loop around in an anticlockwise direction, passing close to the Azores again around the middle of the weekend, before moving east towards Portugal. An area of strong winds to its south will produce another pulse of west swell, expected on Monday, which will quickly merge with the much longer period swell coming from Hurricane Earl.
Earlier, Thursday September 8: Now, there are two hurricanes in the Atlantic ocean and we could feel swell from the first just after the weekend.
Hurricane Danielle is currently in the mid-Atlantic and looks as if it will track eastwards towards Portugal. Meanwhile, behind Dani is Hurricane Earl, which will send swell to most of the US east coast. Yeah, the ocean has finally come alive in September.
MSW forecaster Tony Butt breaks this one down: "Hurricane Danielle is currently west of the Azores, where it has been very slow moving for the last few days. Maximum sustained winds are about 80mph. The system is just starting to move off towards the northeast, which will continue until about Thursday, when it is forecast to start turning back in an anticlockwise loop around the end of the week and into the weekend. It is expected to start weakening early next week as it comes into cooler waters.
"Several pulses of swell are being generated by Danielle, although it probably won’t produce epic surf in many places. The Azores are getting some largish, average-quality swell, and westerly exposures in Europe will get some small to medium long-period swell around the weekend. Current forecasts are showing a second pulse of swell affecting mainly Portugal and Galicia but also perhaps spreading up into southwest UK and Ireland, early next week – but confidence levels are still pretty low at this point.
"Hard on the heels of Danielle is Hurricane Earl, currently south of Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of around 85 mph and moving slowly north. It is expected to accelerate and turn slightly towards the NNE on Thursday, strengthening mainly due to it being over very warm waters, becoming a major hurricane by Thursday night as it brushes past Bermuda. Severe warnings are in force for Bermuda.
"Later on, Earl expands and moves northeast, parallel to the east coast of North America, before becoming extra-tropical and turning east later on in the weekend. It will produce a pulse of swell for the US East Coast, which is then prolonged by a second centre of low pressure that forms in Earl’s shadow early next week.
"Around Cape Hatteras, for example, the swell starts late Thursday and continues until the middle of next week. In southern areas, the swell ramps up towards the end of the week and peaks around Tuesday.
"Up in Nova Scotia, wave heights pick up big-time on Saturday, exceeding six feet at exposed spots, continues into Sunday and Monday and then ramps down quickly towards the middle of the week. The storm itself stays far enough away from the coast for local wind conditions to remain fairly good in most places."
Earlier, Monday September 5 2022: There we have it, the first hurricane of the season. Danielle is currently west of the Azores and as with most hurricanes, it's a little tricky to call it more than 24 hours ahead of time – but we could start to feel its impact by Friday.
There's swell hitting Europe right now, with strong winds pushing swell into exposed areas like Galicia and southwest Ireland.
Over the next few days, the system stays more or less in the same place, with the southwest winds on its southeast flank strengthening and pushing swell into southwest UK. It starts to weaken late today, practically disappearing by Thursday as it moves over central England.
But Hurricane Danielle! It looks like it will start moving off towards the northeast on Wednesday, expand as it goes post-tropical, and eventually send some long-period swell to westerly exposures. The Azores will get some biggish swell earlier, from about mid-week onwards.
In southwest UK, expect average-quality swell about four feet or so at exposed spots from late Monday till Wednesday, with fresh southerly winds. Thursday sees an increase in size but poor conditions in strong westerly winds, which continue on Friday as the swell drops.
Meanwhile, in Ireland, not much swell reaches the north, but southern areas get some decent swell from late Monday through till Wednesday, about three or four feet with southeast winds at first, going light east. Things go quiet on Thursday, and then might pick up again through Friday if that swell from Danielle arrives.
Down into France, the swell increases late Monday, peaks on Tuesday hitting six feet or so around Hossegor, before dropping and losing quality for the rest of the week. Winds are mostly light easterlies in the mornings, moderate west veering north during the day.
Along the north coast of Spain, the mostly west swell doesn’t hit so square-on as in France. Wave heights increase through Monday to around four feet or so at westerly exposures, then holding steady through till Thursday, before dropping on Friday. Winds are light and variable or light southerlies, but moderate to fresh southwest in the western third of the coast.
If Danielle sends anything, this will probably arrive sometime on Friday. Winds are moderate westerlies most of the time, but light and variable early mornings.
EARLIER: Thursday September 1: As if by magic. Those September sessions that North Atlantic surfers have been craving are now more than a mirage. The first hurricane of the season is brewing out there – and that means, the east coast of the US and western Europe could be set for a banger of a season opener.
As of a few hours ago, Tropical Storm Danielle was officially named and is looking likely to strengthen and become a hurricane over the next four days or so. (Current wind speeds are at 40mph and to be a hurricane, they need to reach 74mph, which is looking likely). After Danielle, there's also another potential hurricane brewing too.
That second storm is a long way away as of right now but it is currently at around 80 per cent chance of becoming a tropical storm. We'll keep you updated throughout.
Before all of that, though, this weekend and early next week, there's a pulse of swirling around the top of Ireland that looks more like a ying-yang sign than anything else. That's a fitting analogy too because for some surfers, this could be pure gold, or a break from the bleak summer flatness, and for others, a few days of battening down the hatches.
Let's kick it over to MSW forecaster Tony Butt for the outlook for this first swell and how that impacts the potential hurricane about to steam across the great big blue.
“The North Atlantic currently contains very weak pressure gradients everywhere. But that is about to change,” said Tony. “A low is about to form just west of Ireland, that will generate some surf for European areas late in the weekend and into early next week.
“It’s actually called a cut-off low because it is detached from the main west-to-east flow. Because of this, these types of systems tend to drift around in the same place for days, instead of moving more decisively across the north of the North Atlantic.” Hence why it looks like it's swirling around a lot.
“Current forecasts show the storm getting stronger just off Ireland late Friday and early Saturday, with an area of strong northerly winds on its western flank. By Sunday, the main centre is expected to be slightly further south (although this could change), with the northerly windfield persisting together with increasing westerly winds on its southern flank, just west of Biscay. By Monday, those westerly winds expand north into the Celtic Sea and into Biscay itself, before the system finally begins to weaken towards the middle of next week.”
And what does that mean for the surf?
“Well, all this means that several pulses of swell will hit areas including southwest UK, northwest and southwest France, northern Spain, and Portugal. Ireland will get some swell, but it will be less solid than areas further south.
“In Cornwall, for example, the main pulse of swell is expected to kick in during Monday, hitting four or five feet, maybe bigger, with fresh to strong southerly winds. This persists until around the middle of the week.
“In France, wave heights increase overnight Sunday/Monday, around four feet or so through Monday, then pick up again on Tuesday, hitting six feet or more. Winds are light in the mornings, with moderate north or northwest later in the day.
“Along the north coast of Spain, the west swell doesn’t hit so square-on as in France, but spots on the west sides of peninsulas will hit four or five feet by late Monday, persisting into the middle of the week. Winds are light and variable for much of the time, with moderate northeast breezes in the afternoons at exposed spots.
“Around the west side of Galicia, wave heights are bigger, over six feet from Monday onwards, but hampered at many spots by strong southwest winds associated with the storm itself coming very close to the coast.
“Down into Portugal, the main bulk of the swell arrives late Monday, continues through Tuesday but probably fades out quicker than other areas. Expect wave heights up to four or five feet, and moderate winds from a westerly quarter.”
What is now Tropical Storm Danielle, is currently sitting about 1,000 miles west of the Azores. It is in an area of very light winds and so is expected to stay more or less in the same place for the next three days or so. A trough of low pressure with a westerly flow associated with will then allow the storm to move off towards the northeast.
Maximum sustained winds are currently around 40mph and increasing. They need to be 74mph before it can be called a hurricane. High sea temperatures and not much vertical wind shear in the atmosphere mean that Danielle will continue to strengthen, probably becoming a hurricane in about four days.
At the moment, not many coastlines are being affected, but after the weekend, it will start sending swell first to the Azores, and then a small, long-period pulse could reach southwest-facing spots in mainland Europe.
Hard on the heels of Danielle there is another possible tropical storm or hurricane – currently east of the Leeward Islands, it has an 80percent chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next five days.