Billabong Pro Pipeline Forecast
Always the way, eh?
The North Pacific has been overactive the past month with endless pulses of large swell, notably lighting up the Pipeline arena but also every other North Shore reef that likes it DOH from the NW. Yet it was never going to last, especially in a La Niña summer. These are climatically the least active for the North Pacific and while there has been periods of large swell, it's consisted of mid-period energy with the storms being a touch weaker than normal. It's those stronger storms and longer-period swells that push the size into the XL range and beyond.
We've all enjoyed seeing local specialists scoring four epic days of heavy Pipeline for the Da Hui Backdoor Shootout, but with the Pipe Masters event window kicking off this Saturday, it looks like the change in programming is not going to work favourably for the WSL this year.
The North Pacific is set to see a blocking high setup north and north-east of the Hawaiian Islands over the coming fortnight, preventing storms spawning off Japan from pushing west with any real vigour.
This will see the storm track focussing north towards the Aleutian Islands instead of south towards Hawaii, resulting in moderate to possibly large (if we're lucky) pulses of swell energy throughout the event window.
The one positive to glean from this particular setup is that the North-west Pacific won't fall quiet, so there should be plenty of contestable days of surf, just nothing compared to what we say during the Backdoor Shootout. It's also worth keeping in mind that this year is the first time that both Men and Women will compete at Pipe, meaning the WSL will need six or seven days to run the contests.
An initial NW groundswell is expected on the 29th - the first day of the waiting period - generated by a strong but north-east tracking low deepening east-northeast of Japan. A brief fetch of severe-gale to storm-force winds will be generated through Hawaii's swell window as it retreats north. This isn't ideal but should provide good 6ft surf through Saturday, easing in consistency and size from 4-6ft on Sunday morning.
Winds look favourable and E/SE tending variable on Saturday and then S/SE tending variable on Sunday as a trough moves in from the west. It's very likely they'll have two days in the bag by the end of the weekend.
There'll then be a run of lay days next week as weaker fronts move in from the west, generating weak, small swells with no size. The best of these is due Wednesday but to 3-4ft max across Pipeline.
Longer term, there's the possiblity of a healthier storm firing up mid-late next week, providing a good groundswell for later in the waiting period, but the models diverge on its strength and construction. Either way there'll be some form of swell inbound and at least moderate in size.
Keep an eye on the running commentary below for updates.