UPDATE: March Madness for Western Europe

Tom Vaughan

by on

Updated 90d ago

February has been kinda great across Western Europe. Portugal has been pumping, France firing, and the Celtic Lands cooking.

This month went out with a bit of a bang as a new, large, long-period west swell hit the shores of the UK and beyond. Southwest facing spots lapped up the best of it, but there's plenty more to get excited about today and over this coming weekend.

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Our forecast overview for today, March 3. Go surfing!

Our forecast overview for today, March 3. Go surfing!

Words by forecaster Jamie Bateman:

"Low pressure deepened to the west of the Azores this past Tue/Wed with a large swathe of 45kts wind on the storm’s southern flank setting up another round of long-period swell that has slammed into Western Europe this morning (Fri, Mar 3), and will slowly fade through tomorrow (Sat, Mar 4). High pressure, lingering to the NW of Scotland, has steered the storm away into the Labrador Sea and also means favourable wind and good/epic conditions for most throughout.

"The swell is almost straight W so surf heights will peak along the westerly exposures in Europe, hitting double/triple overhead range at the best breaks (bigger at those deep water locations), coastlines facing to the north will see less size.

"And we're not done there: another NATL low pressure has followed on the same track and dropped to around 960mb around 1000miles W of Nova Scotia this morning producing another long-period, W swell that will begin to show along those western coastlines late Sat, Mar 5, then peak on Sunday with surf heights in the double overhead range at the best breaks, before fading down on Monday.

"High pressure will be slowly squeezed away to the NW on Sunday and a decaying cold front will bring onshore wind to the UK and Ireland, areas further south will hold onto decent conditions for one more day until Atlantic weather fronts move in on Monday and bring unfavourable, onshore wind as far south as northern Morocco."


Our at a glance forecast for this thing. Yeah, Tuesday is looking tasty.

Our at a glance forecast for this thing. Yeah, Tuesday is looking tasty.

MSW Forecaster Tony Butt took a look at what we can expect:

"Two centres of low pressure are forecast to form in quick succession just south of Nova Scotia in the next 24 hours. These will move east and quickly deepen during Saturday, before merging into a really powerful, large system between Newfoundland and the Azores early Sunday.

"An area of storm-force winds on its south and southwest flanks expands and persists as the system moves north during Sunday. This results in open-ocean wave heights of over 50 feet just northwest of the Azores, and generates a pulse of large, long-period west swell.

"The low then continues north towards Greenland, while high pressure builds just west of Portugal and over Britain and Ireland. This means good local conditions for many places for when the swell arrives.

Period chart for late Monday 27, showing the first long-period waves arriving.

Period chart for late Monday 27, showing the first long-period waves arriving.

"The westerly direction of the swell means that the bulk of the swell will be felt in southwest Ireland, Portugal and Galicia, with north-facing areas such as those in northern Spain and northwest Ireland getting less swell. Cornwall, Devon and southwest Wales will get some good swell, including southwest-facing spots.

"The first long-period forerunners arrive on Monday and the swell fills in during Tuesday, gradually ramping down through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Winds are moderate northeast in most places, becoming lighter towards the end of the week.

"For the North Atlantic, this is a relatively long-travelled swell, with the storm expected to form within the next 48 hours, and staying a long way away from the target area. This means that, even though we are forecasting swell several days ahead, it is still pretty reliable. Local wind conditions, on the other hand, could still change, so keep an eye out as we keep you updated."

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