Windsurfing, surfing, Maui, The Gorge, and random rants.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A November to Remember - So Far

[ Note - I'm going to update this post with the forecasts as this giant wave event unfolds for each day. See the tabs below ... ]

Our first November on Maui has turned in some of the best wave sailing conditions either of us have seen in our fairly short Maui experience. Usually we only stayed for one month - October - and left more or less around Nov 1. We would also often come in the spring for a month or so, usually around April. However it has become apparent that one can work very productively from about anywhere these days - thanks to the ubiquitous spread of high-speed internet combined with tools (GotoMeeting, VOIP, IM, VPN) and the good fortune to work for a company that allows such a flexible work environment. Which I believe is a benefit to both parties (perhaps more on that in a later post).

So where was I? In previous years it always seemed that conditions around Nov 1 were looking pretty good just as we were jumping on the plane back to (usually) rainy cold Hood River. Sure, the winter swell should be picking up in general, but you never know about trade winds as you get into the winter months here. But lucky for us November, this year at least, has had plenty of both (note we've sailed 19/23 days so far - biggest sail 5.3).

Now we're looking at a week of solid wind and waves, including huge (25 ft+) wave potential for Wednesday.  Click the tabs below to see how the forecast and conditions progess with each day.

Conditions on the water..

We sailed lowers at Kanaha, 5.3 for me and 4.7 for Julia.  Wind was sketchy in the morning but filled in nicely by around 1.  The waves were around 10-12 ft with occasional mast high sets, more as less as predicted.  The long period made the waves easy to see and ride. Very nice!

SURF ZONE FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
900 AM HST SUN NOV 22 2009

HIGH SURF ADVISORY NORTH FACING SHORES

  • Surf along north facing shores will rise to heights of 12 to 16 feet today and 14 to 18 feet Monday
  • Outlook through Saturday Nov 28: this forecast period includes a series of  large northwest swells.
The above normal northwest swell will likely remain at advisory levels through Monday, before slowly diminishing Tuesday. This swell is expected to be reinforced by a larger northwest swell early Wednesday morning with the potential for the surf to top at or near warning levels for the north and west shores. This will be followed by a smaller northwest swell with advisory potential over the weekend.

Area Forecast Discussion for Hawaii...

A high surf advisory is in effect for north and west Kauai and Niihau, as well as north shores of Oahu Molokai and Maui. Current high surf advisory runs through Monday night since the fetch area that generated the swell persisted when a second low prolonged the episode. Consequently there is the possibility the advisory may need to run through Tuesday. The buoy northwest of Kauai rose overnight and surf will continue to rise through the day with a peak expected on Monday.

The storm system moving into the central north Pacific today has 2 low centers that together provide an extra long fetch. This should produce a larger northwest swell arriving Tuesday night with the peak occurring Wednesday. Warning level surf reaching 25 feet on Wednesday is likely on north facing shores that have good exposure to this next northwest swell.

The wind outlook..

Over the north Pacific, the surface high far northeast will shift eastward and the surface ridge will move to almost 200 miles north of Honolulu Monday and Tuesday. Trade winds will decrease to moderate strength during this period. Models agree on moving a cold front toward Kauai Tuesday night but stalling it north of the islands Wednesday and Thursday. It appears the associated upper trough is not strong enough to push the front down across the main Hawaiian islands. By Wednesday a new surface high moves in behind the front and trade winds are strengthened.

Also of note is the NW bouy showing the incoming NW swell at 17 secs and growing...



Finally a look at the NPAC map shows the source for the next big swell developing. Note the Hurricane Force text by the low north of HI.


Conditions on the water..

Again we sailed lowers and again the wind was very light from 11 to about 1-ish. Early reports of very gusty and "technical" conditions. Some guys were on 5.3-5.7. I had a choice of a 5.0 or 4.7 to rig (my 5.3 needs some fixing) and I delayed until the wind filled in, so finally headed to lowers on a 4.7. Very light on the inside but the wind was solid by the break and lit on the outside. The waves were a bit down from Sunday though the bigger sets were still probably mast high-ish (12-15 ft). Only complaint was the strong wind kicked up a lot of chop. Plus it was a bit crowded with lots of people in the water swimming for gear, which made some of the wave rides a bit more challenging.

SURF ZONE FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
900 AM HST MON NOV 23 2009

HIGH SURF ADVISORY NORTH FACING SHORES

  • Surf along north facing shores will be 10 to 14 feet lowering to 8 to 12 feet later tonight and Tuesday.
  • Outlook through Saturday Nov 28: this forecast period includes a series of above normal northwest swells.
The current northwest swell will start lowering later today. This swell will be boosted significantly higher Wednesday by a new northwest swell. This new swell has the potential for high surf warning for the north facing shores and high surf advisory for the west shores. A smaller reinforcing northwest swell is still on tap for this weekend. The size of this swell is similar to the current one. On Monday, a north northwest swell is on tap to keep the advisory level surf going along the island' s north facing shores.

Area Forecast Discussion for Hawaii...

No changes were made to the high surf advisory. Surf will remain solid into Tuesday, but should drop below advisory levels by then. The surf along north facing beaches' reefs will begin to increase abruptly again Tuesday night potentially requiring a high surf warning for waves exceeding 25 feet on the face by Wednesday with a slow decrease to follow thereafter. It is not out of the question for advisory level surf to persist through the remainder of the week along north facing shores.

South facing shores will see continued waist to shoulder high southern hemi swell today. A decreasing trend will begin Monday night through mid week. Modest southeast swell will appear during the second half of the week possibly hitting the chest high mark along the better exposed reefs' beaches.

The wind outlook...

Trades will weaken slightly during the first half of the week as high pressure to our northeast is displaced further east by an amplifying deep layered trough to the north. Mid latitude flow will remain progressive ushering in height rises and surface high pressure to our north again by mid week allowing trade winds to strengthen once again. This will also limit the equatorward reach of any attendant frontal activity. Regardless of fluctuating batches of moisture passing in the trades the weather will remain pleasant through the forecast period.

The NW bouy showing the current NW swell peaked early Monday on Maui



The NPAC map with a Hurricane Force low north of the islands.

Conditions on the water..

Light wind today and fading but still decent swell from the earlier episode.  We made it out on 5/3/4.7 to lowers.  Lots of slogging between waves but no crowds!  I was able to demo a 2010 Goya 89 lt twin fin wave board which made the conditions much more fun then they should have been.

Now for a late day update on the incoming giant surf.  Buoy 51001 (NW of HI) is showing a rapid increase in the size of the forerunners from this new swell.  Check out this real time graph...



Below is the forecast from this morning but the details remain mostly the same .. huge waves!
SURF ZONE FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
900 AM HST TUE NOV 24 2009

  • Surf along north facing shores will be 6 to 10 feet today, building to 25 to 30 feet Wednesday.
  • Outlook through Monday Nov 30: the large northwest swell will peak on Wednesday, and slowly lower through the end of the week. Surf is expected to drop below advisory levels late Thursday night. A new northwest swell will arrive by Saturday night, and bring surf back to near advisory levels

This is taken from Pat Caldwell's commentry...

The jet stream track shifted southward late last week over the northwestern to central north Pacific. Models show a winter-type pattern this week into next with overlapping high episodes.

An extratropical cyclone tracked from Kamchatka east along the Aleutians last Friday into Saturday with severe gales in the 325-335 degree band. This source alone would only result in moderate surf locally, yet a followup system has acted upon the existing seas from the former system.

Another low pressure formed off the Kuril Islands on Saturday, with a amplifying jet stream trough steering the system slightly south of east. Storm-force winds centered on 320 degrees relative to Hawaii set up from Saturday into Monday, with a resultant captured fetch due to the system traveling at speeds similar to the growing seas. On Sunday night, quikscat showed severe gales to near 1000 nm from Hawaii in the 315-330 degree band. Combined with the other Aleutian source, and considering the proximity to Hawaii, this spells extra-large to giant surf for northern shores of Oahu. Models show the system racing to the NE into the gulf of Alaska over the next 24 hours, turning off the source from 315-330 degrees.

One aspect of a relatively nearby source is typically a rapid rise, which is expected in the wee hours on Wednesday. Surf should be well into the high category at dawn, with the episode peaking mid day from 310-330 degrees. Heights in the table above refer to peak face at the moment of maximum cresting in zones of highest refraction. Waves break in water depths similar to wave heights, thus these type episodes result in highest breakers on outer reefs in deeper waters. Surf heights at highest near shore spots are usually about 30% lower.

The episode should remain extra-large, meaning significant breakers on outer reefs, into the holiday, and fall off steadily on Friday as the direction broadens from 315-360 degrees. The amount of swell from 340-360 degrees should be moderate or less since the system is expected to be over that directional swath relative to Hawaii for less than a day.
....
In the northern hemisphere, back-to-back episodes into the high bracket are expected next week with about a 3 day spacing between episode arrival. Trades most days with peak days in the fresh to strong range.

FORECAST
DATE
SWL
HGT
DMNT
DIR
DMNT
PD
H
1/3
H
1/10
HGT
TEND

PROB
WIND
SPD
WIND
DIR
SPD
TEND
WED
11/25
14
NW
16
30
38
UP
HIGH
17-21
ENE
UP
7
ENE
8
4
6
UP
LOW
2
SSW
12
2
4
DOWN
LOW
THU
11/26
11
NNW
14
20
26
DOWN
MED
17-21
ENE
SAME
8
ENE
8
4
6
SAME
LOW
FRI
11/27
7
NNW
13
12
14
DOWN
MED
17-21
E
SAME
8
ENE
8
4
6
SAME
LOW
SAT
11/28
7
NNW
16
12
16
UP
LOW
17-21
E
SAME

Area Forecast Discussion for Hawaii...

A complex storm system moving across the northern Pacific ocean has aimed a new very large northwest swell toward the island chain. This large open ocean swell is expected to arrive in the islands tonight, with surf heights forecast to rise abruptly by late tonight and continuing through Wednesday. The forecast surf heights resulting from this swell will likely require a high surf warning along north and west facing shores of Kauai, Oahu, and Molokai, as well as north facing shores of Maui. Based on the forecast swell direction of 320 degrees, do not anticipate surf heights reaching the high surf advisory threshold along north or west facing shores of the Big Island due to shadowing by the smaller islands. A marine weather statement has been updated this morning with additional information about this swell and its potential impact on the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian islands. This northwest swell will slowly decrease after Wednesday, but surf heights will likely remain near or above the advisory threshold along north and west facing shores of the smaller islands through Thursday.

The wind outlook..

The trades will weaken to moderate speeds from late Friday through Saturday when the high moves off to the northeast. The trades will likely increase again by Sunday when yet another high passes by far to the north of the state
NW buoy shows the current NNW swell is very slowing fading but still at a decent 15 secs.



NPAC shows the hurricane force low is still throwing a fetch our way though moving further east.


Conditions on the water..

Ah yes, Wednesday, the big swell day! First off there was no windsurfing or surfing anywhere on the Maui North Shore that we could see. Windsurfing was shut down due to lack of wind. NWS had been calling for trades to build, but first we had a decipating front and a high buidling behind it. The wind finally did come up, but not until around 5ish. The good news is we're supposed to have trades for many more days now. As for the giant surf, well it did look really huge in the outer harbor (outside of lower kite beach), and we could see big breakers outside of Uppers at Kanaha, possibly 25ft +. Hookipa had some big sets as well. Plus Jaws was supposedly hitting (correction) 40ft (as predicted). But for most of the north shore it was just closing out. This swell had a period around 16 secs which came down to 13 secs or so, probably too short for waves of this size to be rideable at the usual breaks. At least from what we could see. I did take a bunch of wave pictures at Hookipa - check them out. Now on to the forcasts for the remaining days of this "big week".

SURF ZONE FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
700 PM HST WED NOV 25 2009

HIGH SURF WARNING FOR NORTH AND WEST FACING SHORES

  • Surf along north facing shores will be 15 to 25 feet lowering to 12 to 18 feet Thursday morning
  • Outlook through Tuesday Dec 1: surf is expected to drop below advisory levels Friday morning but a new north northwest swell will arrive Saturday, boosting surf back to near advisory levels.
The current large northwest swell continues. Swell data from buoy one located northwest of Kauai and Waimea bay buoy shows a subsiding trend. The data supports the continuation of the high surf warning for the rest of tonight for affected shores. Surf will continue lower through Friday.

Area Forecast Discussion for Hawaii...

...the breezy trade winds will also carry some of these showers downwind into the leeward communities from time to time. In other words, passing showers. Saturday looks good with the return of more typical trade wind showers.

The N buoy shows todays big swell ramped up very quickly early Wednesday, peaking around 16 ft with a 16 sec period.



The NPAC map shows yet another low tracking toward the Aleutians which should bring another high level surf event by Saturday.  Fun!

Conditions on the water..

This is the last report I'm going to post about this "big swell week". Looks like the wind and waves will more or less continue for several more days (and then we must leave)...

The big swell slowly came down but not before serving up another fun day on the water. Per usual this week, the wind was very light to nothing early on and we sat on the beach at Kanaha watching people slogging. I'm much better about slogging in waves then I used to be, but I have my limits. The trades were more NE - and Kihei was hitting 31 gusting to 44! - but we hung around until the wind came up enough to rig our largest sails - 5.3/4.7.
We slogged out to lowers to find a very nice 12ft ish wave which peaked near the channel upwind and then pealed with reasonable consistency down the line. The light wind made the slog through the break interesting / challenging but if we wanted it to be easy we would be kiting! (yes we windsurf for the challenge). But the wave rides were sweet. The wind came up toward the end of the day, and shortly after we did de-rigged in a frenzy and sped off to our next adventure - the turkey day feast!

SURF ZONE FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HONOLULU HI
700 PM HST THU NOV 26 2009

HIGH SURF ADVISORY NORTH FACING SHORES THROUGH EARLY FRIDAY MORNING
HIGH SURF ADVISORY FOR EAST FACING SHORES BEGINNING FRIDAY MORNING

  • Surf along north facing shores will lower to 10 to 12 feet Friday
  • Surf along east facing shores will rise to 6 to 8 feet early Friday
  • Outlook through Wednesday Dec 2: surf is expected to drop below advisory levels on the north shore Friday. But the north swell generated earlier this week may wrap around to affect east shores which may experience 8 foot advisory level surf Friday through Saturday. A new northwest swell will arrive early Saturday to boost surf back to near advisory levels along north facing shores.
Area Forecast Discussion for Hawaii...

Trade winds will continue through the rest of the week into the early part of next week....

The current large northwest swell has subsided enough such that the high surf warning for north and west facing shores of the northern islands is cancelled. Surf heights are still high enough to warrant an advisory for those areas instead. As the swell turns more north to northeast by Friday, it may produce advisory level surf heights for east facing shores of the northern islands.

The N buoy shows that the "giant swell" has come down to simply big size, while another N swell with a short period has added into the mix.


The NPAC map shows a steady parade of strong lows and highs marching across the pacific.  Thats what we want...


1 comment:

Mike said...

I have been coming for the month of November for about the past 10 years and get between 22-25 days of sailing. This month looks like a very good month.

Mike

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