For weeks now, Hurricane Fiona has been unloading day after day of swell on to the entirety of the east coast of the United States. And here, we've the latest happenings from New Jersey, northwards.
On Friday, Fiona – the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season, meaning it reached category 4 – downgraded to a tropical storm, but didn’t mean this swell extravaganza was about to let up. And yeah, we'll be bringing you more very soon.
But hasn't our Fiona come far? This gigantic North Atlantic storm began life off the coast of Africa, before swinging westwards through the Caribbean, then north towards Florida. Fiona then made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia by Saturday morning and shattered records for the deepest low-pressure system to be recorded in Canada.
“Got down to the beach about an hour before the sun went down,” said Kyle Lavelle, some 600 miles away in New York . “The swell from Fiona finally filled in offering firing waves (and wind), countless closeouts and tons of wipeouts. Really had to work for it out there. Though every now and then you could catch beautiful moments.”
Fiona’s already drawing some comparisons to last year’s Hurricane Larry, another powerful storm that reached category three on September 4, 2021. Larry ended up lighting up the east coast, having a bit of a dance in the mid-Atlantic before unleashing days of waves on western Europe.
Chris Russo and Jeremy Feldschuh in the drink while Joe O'Connor battles the wind with a drone.
“This was a much different swell than Larry last year though,” said Long Island’s Joe O’Connor. “A lot of different spots were working better because of that SSE swell angle. Spent most of this one scoping out good spots, with no one around, for the local crew, while they were on the way out East, which made it more fun than ever. Our home break is Lido beach which was a shit show.”
Further north, Fiona was coming into its element for Rhode Island. “Friday started smaller and slower than expected but built fast, by late afternoon it was massive,” said photographer Amanda Prifti. “Too big for most spots, but great rides for those who knew where to find them. A spectacle of a day for sure! As fast as it came, it left, nearly flat by lunch time Saturday. A hurricane indeed.”
Forecast: Check the 16-day forecast for Lido Beach with MSW Pro
Meanwhile, fellow lensperson Corey Favino was tapping into other spots across Rhode Island, bagging this incredible shot (below) in the process. “I haven’t been that stoked on a photo in a long time,” he told MSW. “I was bopping around all day Friday (the main day of the swell) trying to find some different perspectives of waves I’ve shot hundreds of times and I saw this framing, loved it and knew it would be epic with the right set, but I didn’t like the midday light when I was there and knew it would be more epic at sunrise.
“So I went early Saturday morning and originally I wanted it at blue hour so the lighthouse light would really stand out. I waited and waited but no set lined up that well until this one well after the sun had risen – and it turned out even better than I imagined it would. The bunny passing through was just the icing on the cake.”
As for the swell in general? “The swell was fun,” said Corey. “Crazy windy which made things difficult to manage, and it also took a bit longer than we thought to fully fill in, but the locals who had the whole day to surf, and patience to check around, definitely scored some diamonds in the rough.”
And now? Fiona's off to Europe. Keep an eye on the forecast HERE. (Hint; bad wind for most parts but could be some pockets of gold).
Hurricane Fiona's path from Wednesday September 21, through to yesterday, Sunday September 25.
Hurricane Fiona, the sixth named storm and the first major Atlantic hurricane of the 2022 season, started life around September 12, west of Cabo Verde. It tracked eastwards and became a tropical depression and then a tropical storm by 15th. The following day, it entered the Caribbean and started to veer towards the northwest, passing Guadalupe before hitting Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as a Category-1 hurricane.
It then began to expand and accelerate northwards, strengthening to category 3 and then 4, as it moved north out of the Caribbean region. By 21st it was headed towards the NNE, parallel to the US east coast but well away from the coast. It continued to accelerate NNE and expand, transitioning to a post-tropical system around 23rd, before turning northeast and smashing into Nova Scotia and other parts of eastern Canada on Saturday 24th.
As the storm moved NNE, the strong southerly winds on its eastern flank generated a pulse of southerly swell, that hit south-facing spots north of Cape Hatteras on Friday 23rd. The peak of the swell coincided with the north or northwest winds on the west side of the system, as it tracked parallel to the coast.
At exposed spots along the coast of New York and Rhode Island, wave heights hit six feet or so by late Friday, with periods up to 16 secs, before losing size and quality fairly quickly through Saturday. Winds continued from the northwest and decreased as the system moved away.
During Friday and Saturday, just before Fiona made landfall in Canada, an area of hurricane-force southwest winds on its southwest flank started sending a pulse of super long-period west swell across the Atlantic. The swell is just about to hit Galicia and Portugal as we speak, and will fill into other European west-facing spots tomorrow, Tuesday.
Unfortunately it will be difficult to find somewhere where the long-period swell is not buried under another, more locally-generated swell from the northwest, that arrives accompanied by strong northwest winds.