SWELL ALERT: Spring Looking a lot Like Winter for North Atlantic

Tony Butt

by on

Updated 101d ago

The North Atlantic is still pumping, with some winter-like swell this week, and a particularly solid pulse on Thursday.

The chart at the moment is showing pattern more typical of early winter than late spring, with an anticyclone stationed over the Azores and a train of deep lows tracking across its northern periphery, driven by a strong and meanderless upper airstream.

We gonna see an Irish pulse?

Two main swell-generating systems will cross the North Atlantic this week. The first one deepened between Monday and Tuesday and is currently centred about 500 miles west of Ireland with a strong westerly fetch on its southern flank. The second one should develop tomorrow and follow in the tracks of the first, although perhaps not quite as intense.

A large, long-period swell from that first system is heading straight towards Ireland; with wave heights picking up to around ten feet or so at westerly exposures during the day today, and then becoming much more solid as a second pulse kicks in, perhaps hitting 20 feet at exposed reefs first thing tomorrow. The swell filters down to southern areas, with wave heights up to 15ft in Galicia and periods up to 18 secs at first. Wave heights drop briefly on Friday, and then pick up again over the weekend.

...or will Portugal get a little pump?

Wind conditions will be poor in many places for that first swell, perhaps improving in Ireland tomorrow afternoon with winds backing southwest as that second system approaches. In southern areas, a weak low over Iberia pushing up against the eastern flank of the Azores high – typical of this time of year – will produce annoying onshore breezes in Biscay and a strong nortada in Portugal. Wind conditions over the weekend look better, as the Azores high weakens, allowing winds to back southeast in Ireland and southwest in southern areas.

In summary, the swell is definitely coming, but it might be tricky finding somewhere with really good wind conditions. If you find somewhere, make the most of it, because it could be the last solid swell of the season.