Billabong Pipe Masters Early Forecast
I don't know 'bout you, but it's been an exciting early season in Hawaii. Dual-screening the beautiful walls of Honolua Bay and the blunt rawness of Sunset, culminating in great performances from Steph and Carissa in Maui, while a bunch of young Aussies won their way onto the CT for 2020.
There isn't much downtime heading into Pipe, with the Billabong Pro waiting period set to kick off this Sunday the 8th of December (Monday Australian time).
We'll be looking at a title showdown between five surfers. They being Italo, Gabs, Jordy, Felipe and Kolohe.
But will it be decided in waves equal to the occasion?
The answer, thankfully, is yes. We're approaching a very active period of storm activity and swell generation in the North-West Pacific Ocean, producing multiple pulses of moderate to large north-west groundswell.
For the first day of the waiting period we'll be seeing an unusual N/NE groundswell, produced by a strong and stalling low between the Aleutian Islands and the US mainland, directing a fetch of gale-force N'ly winds on the edge of Hawaii's swell window.
The swell us due to arrive Saturday afternoon across the North Shore and peak overnight, easing Sunday, from 5-6ft on the sets and smaller into Monday. This isn't ideal for Pipe and will favour Backdoor though with early variable winds due to swing onshore from the west and then north-west, it'll likely be a lay day.
Swell from this direction can sometimes shift sand from Pupukea onto Pipe's reef. We can only hope this isn't the case.
Monday will provide mixed surf as the N/NE swell eases and a new moderate sized mid-period NW builds through the day, reaching 6ft+ into the afternoon with freshening east-northeast trades.
The source of this swell will be a broad low forming off the Kamchatka Peninsula, moving east towards the Aleutian Islands, producing a broad fetch of strong to gale-force W/NW winds through Hawaii's swell window for a prolonged period.
The swell is expected to perk up a little into Tuesday to 6-8ft while tending a touch more northerly in direction owing to a south-east projection of the storm towards Hawaii. The European model has stronger core winds resulting in even more size, but we'll keep an eye on this. Conditions will improve into Monday with morning easterly trades, shifting less faovurable north-east through the day, hopefully holding out of the east-northeast all day Tuesday.
Following this initial activity, a much more significant frontal progression is forecast to move to a similar position, with all this activity linked to a strengthening node of the Long Wave Trough over the Aleutians. Both models have significant developments for Hawaii, with only the timing and sizes that'll move around over the coming days.
At a glance, back to back lows will push east, generating fetches of severe-gale to storm-force W/NW winds through Hawaii's north-western swell window, stalling off the Aleutians in its later stages.
A very large, long-period NW groundswell is expected late week, arriving Thursday and building rapidly to 12-15ft, maxing out Pipe. The easing trend will be slow as the swell swings more north in direction, likely still XL into Friday.
Conditions unfortunately look to become problematic as the frontal progression interferes with the Islands, bringing strong northerly winds. Here's hoping this changes for the better.
In summary we should see competition get underway Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, but from then the outllook revolves around the local winds with the incoming XL swell event.