So far this winter on Maui there have been 11 high surf warnings - meaning surf with wave faces of 25 ft or higher. And a couple of those brought waves in the 30-50 ft range. Big enough for Jaws and the Eddie Aikau to go off. Last year there were only two high surf warnings, and a typical winter averages three. In fact the previous record for high surf warnings was in 1996, with eight events. So this year is the new record surf year (at least since 1980 when they started counting). Woo-hoo! Also let's not forget that the summer of 2009 brought the biggest south swell in recent memory as well. Those of us in the Gorge might not appreciate that so much, but even this spring we've had some decent south swell (see my "Freight Train" pics).
We all know this is an El-Nino year (which according to Henry Rollins should be called something else) and this has no doubt contributed to our record wave year. And then there's my favorite theory.. last year there were almost no sunspots, in fact the lowest number in about a century. I'll spare you the details, but see these links Sunspots still missing and sunspots seem to have vanished for more info. So there seems to be a correlation between a lack of sunspots and potentially colder winters - and I'll be the first to make this claim - more waves! So there ya go.
Well it's almost April and winter has not given up on sending big surf our way. Today we had a "near" high surf warning day, with waves in the 20-24 ft range. Check out this animation of the weather systems that brought us this north shore action. (Click on the picture to see the full animation).
If you followed the action, you'll notice that on 3/29 we had a storm with a fetch that crossed the entire north pacific. The largest waves weren't even aimed at Hawaii, so we're getting a glancing shot, which is still cranking waves up to 24ft or so. Cali must be getting some huge waves from this. Now we have another hurricane force storm in the far no-pac. Unfortunately the storms are moving quickly and far away, so we'll probably see only modest waves in a day or so. Also you might notice that right above HI is a 1030 high cell, which has the trade winds cranking. And I mean cranking!! Check the wind chart from Kihei..
Oh yeah, averaging 41 with gusts to almost 60mph at the peak. Fun! Not!! Fortunately Kanaha wasn't that insane. It was only averaging around 25 or so at noon, and eventually topped out in the mid-30's (average). So today I was on a Goya 4.2 and between that and the Quattro custom quad I was able to hang in the waves pretty well. The sail was rock steady and the board simply does not spin out, letting me do crazy overpowered drops down the steepest waves without any worries. And speaking of those waves, lowers was easily seeing mast high (20ft) on the bigger sets. Well, I don't have any pictures from Kanaha (too busy sailing), but after our sesh Julia and I drove up to Hookipa, and we got some great wave and windsurfing shots. I'm going to post the windsurfing shots in another post. For now the waves... enjoy!
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