By now, you've probably checked the charts and your local forecast 100 plus times, maybe more, in anticipation of this long period swell due to arrive in western Europe on Saturday. Don't worry, it's on its way.
The question is though, where to surf? And that's as nuanced as the locales around the Old Continent. Generally speaking, with a swell period this long, ranging into the 18 seconds mark, the swell may not favour beachbreaks, unless you find one with a perfect sandbar. However, reefbreaks will lap up that extra umph that extra-tropical storm Paulette (formerly a hurricane) is about about to bring to shore.
There's the added caveat of a huge tidal range in the UK, too – meaning if you see a surfable wave, get in there, because odds are it's going to change rapidly.
Talking about why beachbreaks may not favour long period swells, forecaster Tony Butt, says: "For beachbreaks, really long-period swells from one direction are sometimes not as good as they look 'on paper'. This is because, if there isn't a really well defined sandbar for the waves to refract onto, they will be more likely to close out than, say, if you had a shorter-period swell with more directional variation, or a combination of swells from slightly different angles - basically something to break up those long lines and turn them into peaks."
And about the forecast from this ex-Hurricane? “Hurricane Paulette, which passed right over the top of Bermuda earlier this week, is now an extra-tropical system, situated about 800-miles northeast of the Azores and moving very slowly,” says Tony.
“The system is forecast to turn south over the next few days and weaken fairly quickly. It will lose its identity somewhere southwest of the Azores by late in the weekend.
“A long-period west swell is being generated by Paulette, hitting the Azores right now as we speak. The first very long period forerunners are expected to arrive at western extremes of the European mainland, such as Galicia, on Friday afternoon, with periods in excess of 20 secs. The swell then builds overnight and peaks in most places on Saturday.
“The swell will struggle to reach northerly exposures such as the north coast of Spain, and the northwest of Ireland. But many west-facing spots from mid-Ireland down to Portugal will get a good pulse of small to medium, clean and lined-up swell.
“At westerly exposures in mid and southwest Ireland, expect some great surf on Saturday, with wave heights up to four or five feet and moderate northeast winds.
“In Cornwall and Devon, the situation is similar, with the long-period swell persisting through Saturday, accompanied by moderate gusting fresh northeast winds.
“Down in France, wave heights are biggest from Hossegor northwards, perhaps hitting six feet at some spots, with light or moderate variable winds. A secondary combo swell might save some of the beachbreaks from closing out on such a long-period swell.
“Further west in Galicia, expect a similar situation, with wave heights exceeding six feet at many spots, perhaps washing out some of the most exposed beachbreaks.
“And finally, down in Portugal, the west swell will probably not favour Nazaré (live cam HERE) so much, plus things could be hampered by moderate onshores and some short-period southwest swell.”
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