SURF N SEA BLOW OUT 11.16-1.31.23  728X90

Big Picture

SNN BIG PICTURE: Updated Sunday, 1/22 11:30pm

Monday, January 23rd – Tuesday, January 31st

Light to moderate E-ESE trades on Monday followed by a surge of NE winds accompanied by showers…

E-ESE trades returned for the first time in a while on Sunday at light to moderate paces (5-15mph), weak enough for sea breezes to develop over the leeward coast. This is due to a ridge over the eastern North Pacific that expanded westward. Similar winds will hold into Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, a weakening front will wash out as it approaches the state from the NW. This will turn the winds NE overnight Tuesday, which should build to moderate to fresh paces by late Wednesday. A new ridge building in from behind the front should cause NE trades to ramp to fresh to strong paces Thursday through Sunday. Models bring a trough or cut-off low to within proximity of Hawaii early next week, which could bring moderate North winds.

Gorgeous, dry weather prevailed over the weekend. It should continue into Monday. From Tuesday through Thursday, a dissipating front will bring an increase in showers. Drier weather should return by Friday, but showers could return for the weekend and into next week as a trough digs towards Hawaii.

Surf Outlook –

North Shore and West Shores: Full winter-caliber mode this period…

Recent/Now (XXL): Surf reached extreme levels on Sunday at 20-30’ Hawaiian scale from the WNW under light to moderate E-ESE trades. Top refracting reefs likely had sets to 35’. Surf over the leeward coast had outer reefs and Makaha bombing at 10-15’ with select reefs nearing 20’. Many nearshore spots were maxed out. Energy spanning the 15-21 second period band arrived simultaneously due to the source’s evolution and proximity. The source was a mid-latitudinal storm that deepened as it tracked eastward from central Honshu. It gained storm force winds (50-65mph) as it approached the dateline and then hurricane force winds (65-80mph) as it broadened and reached maximum strength east of the dateline. It generated seas of 48’ roughly 1,300nm WNW of Hawaii. This translated to a Waimea Bay buoy peak of 20.3’ of swell at 18-20 seconds, which was the largest since February 10, 2019. That event brought a moderate period swell angled from the NNW and had a sharp rise and drop in surf with unfavorable, gale-force WNW winds. We would have to go back to February 25, 2016 for a very long period NNW swell that peaked at 21’ at 20 seconds, the last time the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was run. It had less favorable winds than this episode (moderate NE trades vs. moderate ESE trades). Taken altogether, the January 22, 2022 event was historic not only for its size but also for its exceptionally epic wind conditions. Surf should drop to 15-22’, or marginally XXL, by early Monday and 15-20’ by the afternoon. It should be 6-10’ on Tuesday.

Next (XL): A storm emerged into the western North Pacific from Hokkaido on Jan 20. It gained winds of 45-55mph which was captured over a distance of 1,200 nautical miles. Satellite altimetry overnight Saturday measured seas of 40’ to within 1,800nm of Hawaii, which is on par with WaveWatch III guidance. Very long period forerunners of 19-21 seconds from the WNW should arrive late Tuesday afternoon. Surf should rise to 10-15’ by dawn Wednesday and peak towards late morning at 12-18’. Surf should drop to 8-10’+ by dawn Thursday and 6-8’+ by the afternoon as the direction veers NW. Surf should be 4-6’+ by Friday morning and 2-4’ by Saturday morning from the NNW.

Next (LARGE): A massive cyclonic gyre is modelled to set up over the NW Pacific Tuesday-Thursday and aim an exceptionally broad fetch of storm-hurricane force winds at Hawaii. The gyre’s central pressure could drop to below 940mb. The storm is not predicted to travel very far eastward, and thus proximity will limit surf potential. Forerunners of 20-22 seconds from the NW should arrive Friday evening. Surf should slowly rise to 2-4’ on Saturday. A second, much larger reinforcement Saturday afternoon with extra long period forerunners of 22-25 seconds from the WNW. Surf should rise to and peak on Sunday at 8-12’. Heights should drop to 6-10’ on Monday and 3-5’ on Tuesday.

Finally: There is quite a bit of uncertainty on this one. Models deepen a cut-off low 1,000nm N-NNE of Hawaii Wednesday and Thursday. Model run-to-run consistency is poor, and models do not agree on track and intensity. It could bring a small, short period North swell sometime of the weekend. It is way too early for specifics.

Outlook: Long range model guidance depicts continued flurry of moderate to strong storms confined to the NW Pacific and a combination of ridging and slow-moving storms NNW-NNE of Hawaii. The trend will be for moderate+, long period swell from the WNW-NW and smaller, moderate period swell from the NNW-NNE early February.

South Shore: Small West wrap and South swell early this week but slower towards the weekend…

Recent/Now: Surf on Sunday was 1-3’ for select spots that favored West wrap.  Surf should hold at 1-3’ at those select spots on Monday as the wrap continues to fill in.

Next: A modest storm aimed a long, wide fetch of 40-50mph winds highest east of Hawaii Jan 15-17. Angular spreading should allow moderate period South swell to bring surf up to 1-occ. 2’ late Monday into Wednesday. Surf should drop back to traces by Friday and hold into the weekend.

Finally: A large, strong, quasi-stationary storm 2,800nm SE of New Zealand deepened on Sunday. It should reach peak intensity on Monday and direct very wide fetch of 40-50mph winds to the NE. It should make for the largest SSW-S swell of 2023 so far. Forerunners of 18-20 seconds from the SSW-S should arrive on Monday. Surf should rise to 1-1.5’ by the afternoon and 1-2’ occ. + on Tuesday.

Outlook: The aforementioned swell could peak at 1-2’ occ. 3’ on Wednesday, Feb 1, and slowly drop into the week. It’ll be back to the doldrums for the first weekend of February, but there are signs of weak storms that could bring surf out of flatness heading into the second week of February.

East Shores: Trade wind swell returns…

Recent/Now/Finally: Surf on Sunday rose to 2-3’+ due to North wrap. Surf from the North wrap should still be significant on Monday at 2-3’+. Tiny East wind swell should contribute 1-2’ of surf on Monday and Tuesday.

Finally: Strengthening NE trades should bring increasing NE trade swell late Wednesday. Surf should rise to 2-3’ early Thursday and 2-4’ later. Surf could bump up to 2-4’+ by Saturday. By Sunday, energy could come more from the North due to a cut-off low, which should maintain 2-4’+ surf. Surf could drop to 2-4’ early next week as the low weakens.

Outlook: Trades look to weaken substantially Feb 2-4, and this should lead to tiny-small surf. There are hints of trade winds and swell returning for the first weekend of February, which could bring surf up towards average.

The next full SNN Big Picture will be issued on Sunday, Jan 29.

Surf Climatology HERE

NEW NWS criteria for High Surf Advisories (first number) & Warnings (second number).

All surf height observations & forecasts are for full ‘face’ surf height, or ‘trough to the crest’ of the wave.

North-Facing Shores 15 Feet and 25 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Remaining Islands 12 Feet and 20 Feet

West-Facing Shores – Big Island 8 Feet and 12 Feet

South-Facing Shores -(Advisory) 10 Feet (up 2′) and (warning) 15 Feet

East-Facing Shores – 10 Feet (up 2′) and 15 Feet

Get the latest Central Pac Hawaii HERE

For the SNN Buoys ‘per shore’ displayed   HERE

Note: Spectral density graph in the SNN Buoy Page HERE can show ‘slivers’ of forerunners that initial text readings of new swells which often do not ‘show’ till later on written/text buoy updates.  Also, note the vertical graph is not ‘wave height’ rather its a measure of wave energy in hertz (frequency or cycles/sec) for the whole ‘band’ (the distribution of power/period in the total wave energy field/spectrum).

Back to Top