Huge swell forecast for Hawaii

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

Last week Swellnet ran an article on the now-cancelled Eddie Aikau competition. Aside from expressions of disappointment, a recurring sentiment was that the family will be hoping no 'Eddie swells' come this season. Damn contest has only been held nine times in thirty years, it'd be a shame to miss an opportunity 'cos they couldn't get the paperwork in on time.

Well, the Aikau family will be excused for feeling anxious when they tune into the wave models, because the North Pacific is about to start gyrating. Four large swells are forecast in the next two weeks, one of which will exceed the Eddie size limit, and by quite a fair margin.

For the last four weeks Hawaii has been hampered by a persistent blocking pattern, the only swells have been junky and from the north. The pattern started breaking down during the recent Vans World Cup at Sunset and this has continued this week.

A raw 10-12 ft north-northwest swell will arrive two days before the start of the Pipeline Masters, this will be followed by a larger and similarly raw north-northwest swell two days after the start of the waiting period.

For a detailed Pipeline Masters forecast click here.

As the front responsible for Sunday's swell pushes down into Hawaii, a very significant storm will be developing south-east of Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. During the Northern Hemisphere winter we see a semi-permanent and broad low pressure system developing around the Aleutian Islands, know as The Aleutian Low.

The Aleutian Low is the main steering mechanism for storms in the north-west Pacific Ocean, with it usually consisting of smaller embedded storms rotating anti-clockwise from west to east. During this weekend the Aleutian Low will be supercharged by a strengthening node of the Long Wave Trough focussing down towards Hawaii.

The month-long blocking pattern has broken down, with the Long Wave Trough now providing a north-west corridor for developing North Pac storms to hit Hawaii

So this supercharged storm will develop south-east of the Kamchatka Peninsula with an initial stalling fetch of storm-force W/NW winds setting in motion an active sea state. The storm will then start moving slowly down towards Hawaii in a captured fetch motion.

When a swell generating storm moves at the same speed and along the same path to the swell it's creating, this is known as a captured fetch scenario and it results in larger and more rapid wave growth than normal.

We'll see the storm slam into Hawaii late Tuesday, with some of the largest surf we've seen in years impacting the island chain. By midday Wednesday the North Shore will be giant with maxing 40ft+ surf. However, the winds on the North Shore are forecast to be westerly. At the same time the wind on Maui is forecast to be south-west making surfers second guess Jaws. It'll be slightly smaller than the North Shore but still very, very large.

Wave heights show the storm moving as a 'captured fetch' toward Hawaii

The swell is still expected to be XL into the next day, which is Thursday, as winds relax and tend more variable. This would be the day to run the Eddie - if it were still on this year. The Pipe lineup should return to normality by Friday, though it will still be large in the morning.

From there, the swell will create waves on every west-facing coast of the Americas, from Alaska to Patagonia. It'll also spark up the north facing coasts of Samoa, the Solomons, the Tuamotos, Christmas Island, and myriad other Pacific islands.

We'll continue to keep a close eye on developments over the coming days and provide running commentary below.


Follow the North Shore WAMs

Watch Greg Long and Twiggy Baker surf big, perfect Cortes Bank


Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython's picture
Tim Bonython commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 9:43am


deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 10:15am

Sure you can't find any coconuts Clyde?!

GreenCT's picture
GreenCT's picture
GreenCT commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 12:27pm

If they want to look at pay per view some production team just needs to get the drones and cameras set up. Why do we need the contest to enjoy this ?

The giant cloudbreak session was I think one of the best live telecasts ever and there was no competition just the best surfers out in what I think are some of the best waves I have ever seen.

Some smart dudes will figure out you do not need the WSL if you want to make money out of surfing just bring us some amazing live comentated content of swells like this

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 2:49pm


NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 7:11pm

@GreenCT , that was the most amazing live webcast ive ever seen too mate. Especially that one insane double up that stormed through the lineup, you will know the one I'm talking about. Really enjoyed Kelly Slater's commentary too. You can actually watch the entire 27mins that Kelly was commentating below, I watch from time to time its rad as they show the angle from the webcast every now and again

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 12:35pm

Macking P Pass from this ?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 12:50pm

Nah, it forms too far east for Pohnpei. They really need the lows that come off Japan.

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 12:52pm

"...and myriad other Pacific islands".
Yes ticket is booked and very excited.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 1:49pm

Hows that typhoon tracking up the phillos at the same time.

sharkman's picture
sharkman's picture
sharkman commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 10:00am

ha , lets Japan , best uncrowded surf in the world!!


zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 6:24pm


he he.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 1:55pm

Looking closer at forecast storm in the North West Pacific and it looks like we'll see the initial low generating storm-force winds in Hawaii's far swell window, generating a very large long-period NW groundswell.

A front spawning off the low will however push down and towards Hawaii but not perfectly in one motion like forecast earlier in the week. We'll still see XXL surf, but not giant waves under the perfect storm scenario. Likely more 25-30ft+ surf on the outer reefs but raw and messy with fresh N/NW winds.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 4:38pm

Down grade and kona winds. The sand cleaner for the pipeline ;)

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 15 Dec 2017 at 10:39am

Pretty sizey at Waimea late yesterday. How's the volume of water?

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