SWELL ALERT: Pumping Tuesday for England, Ireland, Wales and France

Tony Butt

by on

Updated 104d ago

Two long-period swells in the North Atlantic this week: a short-sharp pulse tomorrow and a small but better lined-up swell on Thursday. Once again, Ireland seems to be the best bet.

There is a small but devilish low a few hundred miles west of Ireland, with a short, strong fetch on its southwest flank. The system is moving steadily east-southeast, expected over Biscay by late Tuesday. The fetch is moving at the same speed and in the same direction as the swell it is generating, effectively extending the fetch as if it were a much bigger low, and giving the swell an extra boost.

Swell chart for this afternoon showing that incoming pulse.

Swell chart for this afternoon showing that incoming pulse.

On the other side of the Atlantic, around Newfoundland, there is a developing system moving steadily northeast, expected south of Cape Farewell by late Tuesday. This will generate a second pulse of long-period west swell.

The swell from that first system will hit west-facing spots during Tuesday, biggest in southwest Ireland and Galicia – perhaps briefly exceeding 15 feet at the most exposed reefs. Winds are fresh northeast in Ireland and light to moderate southwest in Galicia. Expect some good surf also in southwest England, Wales and northwest France, with light variable winds.

Here's the forecast chart for Tuesday at 6pm, showing the low, now a weak system over Biscay, with offshore winds in the north and onshores in the south. You can also see the other low brewing up just south of Cape Farewell.

Here's the forecast chart for Tuesday at 6pm, showing the low, now a weak system over Biscay, with offshore winds in the north and onshores in the south. You can also see the other low brewing up just south of Cape Farewell.

The swell drops quickly on Wednesday, but another pulse arrives on Thursday from that second system, this time from a more westerly direction, with periods up to 17 or 18 secs at first. Westerly exposures in Ireland will get the best conditions with wave heights hitting eight feet or more at exposed reefs and light winds from an easterly quarter.

And in case you were wondering, Portugal is probably not the best bet this week, with large, lumpy surf and strong onshore winds throughout.

Spring is a time of change, with the pole-to-equator temperature gradient changing faster than during winter or summer. At the moment, the North Atlantic is still pretty active and ‘fluid’ with a healthy flow of low pressures. But you can see that those big winter systems are starting to be replaced by smaller, sneaky lows generating short pulses of swell here and there.

Cover image, Fistral by Qwest27