We called this one more than a week ago. A huge pulse of swell was on the way to Europe, later it was officially named Storm Ciara (that's KEE-rah). Eyes immediately popped, then skirted the North Atlantic down to Nazare, of course. It just so happened that a contingent of the world's best were there yesterday, treating the huge conditions as a warm up for today's tow-only competition. And, brace yourselves, because there's another pulse on the way too. What a week.
Meanwhile, France copped the brunt of it over the weekend. The storm was incredibly big, of the size where it could deliver swell to Ireland and France at the same time. That isn't an unusual thing, but worth pointing out. There's still swell in the water today for France today and tomorrow – so it's best to keep an eye on the local forecast HERE. For now, here's a recap of how Ciara translated to the French coast.
Over in the UK, if you knew where to go, you'd be in for a treat. The first signs of Ciara rifled in over the weekend – and is still on going now. As you can see from the pic below, a certain slab was working over time as Brit legend Reubyn Ash capitalised on a bomb. Even prior to that, a solid, playful pulse had set off most of the country's south west during last week.
A certain former fishing town that houses a spot just outside its harbour wall also offered ample protection from Ciara. A fun, yet fickle, left hander raised its head on Sunday.
The Basque Country too, of course. Jon Aspuru and Natxo Gonzalez stepped out their front door to a day of heaving barrels on the Spanish north coast. And, well, the results speak for themselves.
The jewel in the crown may have been Nazare though. (And did you know we've a live cam?! Watch that, HERE.) Nic Von Rupp, Justine Dupont, Tommy Butler, Andrew Cotton, Sebastian Steudtner, Francisco Porcella have all been putting the time in at that hyper wave. Yesterday, it was heavy. A NW swell maxing out at 17.5ft@17 seconds, accentuated by the underground canyon running south of the lighthouse off the coast or Praia do Norte, made for some insane conditions. Our man on the ground, Helio Antonio captured the action as it went down.
“The upper airstream over the North Atlantic lost its meander and was in a classic fluid state, with a strong, straight jetstream and a solid north-south pressure gradient. This signalled the start of a run of powerful storms and big surf,” said MSW forecaster Tony Butt about this system.
“Over the weekend, was saw a complex area of low pressure develop near Iceland with peripheral systems running around its southern flank. These systems combined with a stable area of high pressure to the south, generating a continuous area of storm-force westerly winds across the northern half of the North Atlantic.
“Several pulses of swell hit west and northwest exposures, with the largest wave heights and stormiest conditions in the north, and much cleaner conditions in the south.” Hence why Portugal and France were the way to go. Ireland? Blown out.
Oh and we mentioned there's more to come too! “The upper airstream is still in that highly fluid state over the North Atlantic, with no sign of any meanders or weakening over the next few days,” adds Tony.
This system is expected to deepen explosively over the second half of this week
“On the surface at the moment there is a large band of high pressure stretching across the south, and a fast-developing low near Newfoundland. This system is expected to deepen explosively over the second half of this week, sending more large swell to all west and northwest exposures, and very stormy conditions in the north.
“Over the next few days the swell is expected to drop briefly before picking up again big-time around the weekend.
“In the north, expect some huge swell today (Tuesday) with gale-force westerly winds, dropping through Wednesday and Thursday, but then increasing late Friday with wave heights perhaps hitting 30 feet at exposed spots in northwest Ireland over the weekend, again accompanied by strong to gale-force westerly winds.
“In Biscay expect some excellent swell, with Mundaka continuing to break day after day, hitting ten feet or so at first, then dropping before ramping up again for the weekend. Winds are mostly light offshores from the south or southwest, but Wednesday could see moderate easterlies: not so good for Mundaka but epic for Punta Galea.
“Down in Portugal, wave heights are smaller but conditions are much cleaner, with Nazaré hitting 20 feet or more today, before dropping for a few days and then increasing again rapidly on Saturday. Winds are light and variable for much of the time.”