Tale of Two Pipe Swells

Ben Freeston

by on

Updated 1918d ago

That the North Shore of Oahu doesn’t only come to life for six weeks of the winter is hardly a well kept secret. Nonetheless, as we pass the equinox and the sun shines longer and harder in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperature differential that drives winter storms weakens, and it becomes less likely we’ll see significant swell. In that context, the blast over the weekend was interesting and the one approaching even more so.

Topping out at almost 12ft@18 seconds on the buoy, this swell peak wasn’t way outside the normal range – we’d expect about an 80% chance of swell this size in March. That said, we’ve not seen those numbers arrive quite that late in March in the last decade. That gives a flavour for how quickly the setup changes as we move through the spring months and gives great context for the likely second blast on Friday.

Last week versus this week. This one is a little smaller - potentially more intense in the center and close to the Islands.

Last week versus this week. This one is a little smaller - potentially more intense in the center and close to the Islands.

© 2022 - MSW

We’re told lightning never strikes twice, but build a tall building in an area renowned for electrical storms and you’ll test that theory. Likewise, set up the atmospheric conditions for a strong jet stream in the right part of the ocean and watch for copycat storms to spin off one after the other. That’s the state of play right now, winter might be winding down but Friday's storm is forecast to deliver numbers in a similar range to the last pulse and that makes it increasingly unusual. This swell is forecast right on the borderline between relatively unusual (40% chance) and not seen in the last decade - only the wave buoy readings will tell - but either way it's one to watch.

Damien Hobgood

Damien Hobgood

© 2022 - Cameron Nelson

Dane Gudauskas

Dane Gudauskas

© 2022 - Cameron Nelson

Koa Smith

Koa Smith

© 2022 - Cameron Nelson

Cover image Nathan Florence by Cameron Nelson

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