UPDATES: Post-Tropical Cyclone Helene to Unleash Pumping Swell


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Updated 901d ago

UPDATE: 3pm, Tuesday September 18. Helene has officially arrived, delivering a pulse across Europe.

Galicia remained the best bet for today. But the first image past the door shows a little slice of Portugal had an insane run. Helene will wind down over the next few days but swell should still fill in with the storm's remnants.

© 2021 - stefan_klitzsch

Keep your eyes peeled for a full gallery, dropping soon.

EARLIER: 12pm, Monday September 17: Helene may have downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but she's still set to deliver pumping swell, with Galicia being your best bet.

MSW forecaster Tony Butt reports: "At midday today, Helene was located about 600 miles west of Galicia and is moving towards southwest England. The storm has been downgraded somewhat since the last update but its effects will still be felt tomorrow.

Helene is still on track to blast Ireland.

Helene is still on track to blast Ireland.

© 2021 - NOAA

"In Cornwall, Wales and Southwest Ireland expect some lumpy swell with wave heights exceeding six feet at exposed spots accompanied by strong perhaps gale-force southwest winds.

"Further south, the swell will be smaller than originally forecast and moderate to fresh northerly winds will hamper conditions in Portugal. Nazaré will probably hit eight to ten feet early tomorrow but with cross-shore winds picking up during the morning. The best bet now seems to be Galicia, with much cleaner conditions and enough swell to make things interesting. West-facing spots are already seeing some very long-period swell with wave heights around five feet and light southerly winds, and tomorrow expect well over six feet at exposed spots, particularly early on, with windless conditions or light westerlies."

We'll keep you up to date as this storm unfurls.


Europe, it's time to strap up as the first major pulse of the season is set to rifle in, courtesy of Tropical Storm Helene.

Helene, who has just been downgraded from a hurricane, is on a somewhat unusual northwards track, gunning straight for Ireland, delivering swell for the Emerald Isle as well as Cornwall, France and Wales.

After weeks of drought from any significant swell, September rolls in and Helene's come a-knocking. You can see her current trajectory here with Ireland firmly in the cross-hairs.

After weeks of drought from any significant swell, September rolls in and Helene's come a-knocking. You can see her current trajectory here with Ireland firmly in the cross-hairs.

© 2021 - NOAA

Remember it was October last year that Hurricane Ophelia made headlines as it tracked towards Ireland? Helene looks to be much less intense than that hurricane blast and is changeable - which is the nature of Tropical Storms, so it's worth keeping an eye on your local charts by going HERE.

At the moment, Helene is around 1,000 miles south of the Azores. Tomorrow, she'll turn right and head towards southwest Ireland.

As MSW forecaster Ben Freeston explains: “Typically Atlantic tropical storms move to the west steered by trade winds. In this case a sub-tropical ridge is predicted to steer the storm almost straight north until it’s picked up by the North Atlantic jetstream and moves back east, transitioning to a more common cold-core storm in the process.

“It’d feel unusual if we hadn’t had Hurricane Ophelia strike southern Ireland just last year. This storm will likely be less intense than that one, but create surf from a similarly unusual southerly angle for exposed coastlines.”

The route Ophelia took last year.

The route Ophelia took last year.

© 2021 - NOAA

Given Helene's current path, it looks like she'll generate a large, short-lived swell for southwest-facing spots around Tuesday.

MSW forecaster Tony Butt adds: “The system is due to arrive at the same time as the swell so expect some windy conditions. Even though the system is pretty small in area, the fetch on its southeast flank is effectively increased by the movement of the storm itself, giving it an equivalent fetch of a much larger system.

“A pulse of swell will also reach spots further south such as Galicia, Portugal and southwest France north of Hossegor, which will be a better bet than spots further north. Conditions will be much cleaner here and, even though offshore wave heights will be smaller, the long periods could boost heights at spots with intense focusing. Don’t be surprised to see Nazaré up to eight or ten feet, for example.

“Keep an eye on the charts over the next few days, as tropical storms are notoriously difficult to predict and so a relatively small change in the trajectory of Helene could make a big difference to local conditions.”