Huge swell forecast for Hawaii
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.
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.
// CRAIG BROKENSHA and STU NETTLE