It's a non-stop pumpathon for western Europe. Right now, a huge storm is in the North Atlantic and by Sunday evening, into Monday, it may produce XL-XXL surf for swell magnets across that rugged coastline.
And while this week Nazare has been marred by strong wind, come the end of the week, this new system should smooth everything out. But it's not just Portugal that cops the brunt of this storm. Ireland, UK, Spain, Morocco, France (though once it's moved through) are all going to light up. Anyone in Western Europe that's checked their local surf recently is going to be a little bit fired up.
"The storm that is forecast to produce yet another pulse of swell for Sunday, has already formed and is currently just off Nova Scotia and is shifting north east," said MSW forecaster Tony Butt. "It is expected to continue moving in that direction and forming into a very powerful system, expected southwest of Iceland by Saturday. The large area of storm-force winds on its southern flank will move in the same direction as the swell it is generating and result in open ocean wave heights of more than 40 feet south of Iceland by late Saturday.
"The swell is propagating towards the northeast, so the full brunt will be felt in Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and the Northern Isles of Scotland, accompanied by hellish conditions. Areas further south will get swell too though. Conditions will be very good in many places.
"In northern Scotland, wave heights at westerly exposures hit 15 feet by early Sunday, with periods around 17 secs and light winds from a southerly quarter.
"In northwest Ireland, the swell arrives a bit earlier, peaking overnight, but still hitting 15 feet or more at exposed spots, with light southeast or south winds.
"In southwest UK, the swell fills in through Sunday morning, with periods initially around 19 secs and wave heights well over six feet at most exposed spots. Winds are moderate to fresh south or southwest.
"Then, in the far northwest of Spain, wave heights pick up through Sunday morning, hitting 15 feet at the most exposed spots, with periods well over 20 secs initially. Expect almost windless conditions, perhaps with moderate southerlies later.
"Along the north coast of Spain and into southwest France, some incredibly long period forerunners arrive early Sunday (24 secs or more), and the swell fills in later in the day Sunday and through Monday. Wave heights hit ten feet or so at exposed spots, and winds are light in most places.
"In Portugal, the swell hits on Sunday afternoon, picking up to ten feet or so and continuing through Monday. Winds are light east or southeast, so some excellent conditions in most places, including Nazaré. The swell also reaches Morocco and the Canary Islands, with good wind conditions in northern Morocco particularly, and wave heights up to eight feet or so at exposed spots."
EARLIER: Wednesday December 8: The Meltdown is here! Yesterday, UK and Ireland were kissed with a raging swell, courtesy of Storm Barra (see HERE) and now, things are shaping up for a one-two punch further south after this thing's done blowing gale force winds into the isles.
And what that means? Morocco could be all-time tomorrow as well as a few other spots. We'll bring you coverage from there as soon as possible. But then, into the weekend and Sunday, oh my word. It is looking like a XXL rampage at the moment, but we are keeping an eye on it.
"A cold front from Storm Barra marched into Spain and Portugal this morning," said forecaster Jamie Bateman. "A XXL north west swell is battering the coast of the Iberian Peninsula this morning with strong NW wind bringing onshore conditions. The swell will begin filtering into the Canary Islands late Wednesday into Thursday and further south still into Morocco on Thursday. The swell will have lost a little power but there will still be double overhead surf at standout breaks as the swell peaks Thursday and Friday. The Canaries will be slightly affected by strongish trade winds whereas Morocco will enjoy clean conditions with afternoon sea breezes."
Another system manifests itself off the USA’s east coast and rapidly deepens to something of a beast though the weekend
And this XXL swell on the weekend? "The NATL is set to deliver two more strong storms in this active period; a deep low is already moving through the Labrador Sea this morning and this system will set up a long-period, NW swell this will push south over the weekend. Then through Thursday Dec 9 another system manifests itself off the USA’s east coast and rapidly deepens to something of a beast though the weekend. Forecast models currently show this storm bottoming out around 945mb over the weekend as it moves NE towards Iceland. Conditions across Western Europe over the weekend and into next will depend on the extent that the Azores high moves across the continent. Models show pressure rising which will generally mean lighter wind but the devil will be in the detail as always."
Stay tuned for more!
EARLIER, Monday December 6: This colossal run of swell for Europe is still on its way, but for places like Nazare, it's also accompanied by fresh onshore winds. Which could mean, big conditions, relatively stormy seas.
But hope's not lost. Other places further south could see an incredible day of surfing by the time Thursday and Friday rolls around. Right now though, here's an update from MSW's chief wave wizard, Tony Butt.
"The North Atlantic chart is currently showing a classic ‘fluid’ pattern, with a band of high pressure stretching from west of the Azores to Portugal, a complex area of low pressure between Greenland and Iceland, and a strong westerly flow in between. This is already generating some swell for most areas, particularly in the northwest.
"There is currently a developing area of low pressure a few hundred miles east of Newfoundland. Over the next day and a half, that system will move east, intensifying and expanding rapidly, to become a really powerful storm just west of Ireland by Tuesday afternoon. It deepens by around 50 mb in 24 hours – more than twice the pressure drop to qualify it for the term ‘explosive cyclogenesis’ (that's a huge but fast fall in air pressure that ends up forming a bomb cyclone, which is when a cyclone intensifies over a 24 hour period.)
"A moving area of storm-force winds on its southern flank, as the storm approaches Ireland, will generate open-ocean wave heights of over 40 feet and pump some huge swell down into Biscay, Portugal and beyond on Wednesday.
"Areas north of here will also receive some large swell, but it will be a smaller, shorter-lived pulse. Local conditions will be very lumpy at most spots north of Morocco. At spots in north and mid areas, you might get the odd window of fluky winds close to the eye of the storm.
"In Ireland, swell is already arriving, with wave heights around ten feet at Mullaghmore, and much bigger further south. Winds are about to shift from strong westerly to gale-force easterly as that new system arrives. Expect largish surf for most of the week, but some crazy wind conditions.
"In southwest UK, the swell is also large for most of the time, with a massive peak on Wednesday, but conditions are generally poor, particularly for west and northwest-facing spots.
"In southwest France, northern Spain and most of the Portuguese coast, conditions are also quite poor in most places, with strong west or northwest winds, and a massive swell on Wednesday, with many places exceeding 20 feet.
"At Nazaré, the northwest swell will help to produce some gigantic A-frames, but accompanied by fresh to strong northwest winds.
"The best place will probably be the far south of Portugal or northern Morocco, where you might get light north or northeast winds. The swell also hits further south, but northeast trades on the eastern flank of that high don’t combine well with the north-northwest swell direction."
EARLIER: We've been watching this for a while now. Into this weekend, there's a large swell heading for Europe but that's coming with dicey winds – what's got us hanging on tenterhooks though is into the middle of next week because, my oh my, things are looking particularly wild, if (and that's a big if) this all comes together.
And by wild, we mean; days upon days of XL-XXL surf, especially around Portugal's favourite amphitheatre at Nazare, with more than a week of solid surf on the charts right now. Those other spots that can cop the brunt of a North Atlantic thrashing could light up too. Remarkably, the wind is holding good for mainland Europe at the moment. This means, we're keeping a very close on eye on it all, as this thing has a load of complexity surrounding it.
Live cam: Nazare
We can't stress this enough though; we are still a way out from this all coming together and there is a lot that needs to happen to make this a reality. We're seeing multiple swells and that means, there's also multiple things that could throw a spanner in the works.
Let's let MSW forecaster Tony Butt breakdown this early look: “The blocking anticyclone that has been in the North Atlantic for the last ten days or so (blocking means it's in the way of low pressures, which are needed to generate swell) is starting to finally crumble away – and although we're calling this early, it looks like there's going to be plenty of activity in the North Atlantic over the next few weeks.
“Today, Thursday December 2, sees that high centred over the Azores, and weaker than it has been lately, with its northern edge heading west, against relatively low pressure in the far north. By the weekend, high pressure builds again between the Azores and Iceland, but this will probably shift quickly eastwards, expected over the Low Countries by the middle of next week.
“An area of low pressure develops off Greenland later today, moves east and then southeast, and is expected over the North Sea by the weekend. The squeeze of isobars on its southern flank – and this means some largish surf for exposed spots.
“Oh but then, after the weekend, a more powerful low develops behind that ridge, moving from Newfoundland towards Scotland, with a large area of strong westerly winds covering almost the entire northern half of the North Atlantic. This will generate a more solid, long-period swell for around the middle of next week.
“What all this means is right now, local conditions are difficult to predict such a long way ahead, but at the moment it looks like the first pulse of swell will be accompanied by fresh winds in most places north of Lisbon, but perhaps cleaning up later; and the second pulse might have much better local conditions, particularly in areas south of the English Channel.” Yeah, we're looking at you, Morocco.
But, is it normal to have this much activity going on in the North Atlantic? Kinda, remember 10 days of Nazare? One of the most spectacular swell events in history.
"What's going on with the North Atlantic is pretty normal behaviour - "flipping" from one state to another, from having a big high blocking the whole ocean and not letting any lows form (or those that do form go right around the top and sneak down the other side, producing surf in the North Sea), to a stream of low pressures, queueing up one after the other, generating large, long-period swells for southern areas and large, stormy conditions for the north," explains Tony.
"We are noticing it more than usual because it is the first time this season that the North Atlantic has really got into this "fluid" state. Before that high blocked the whole North Atlantic, late summer and autumn were fairly hesitant, with mostly small to medium swells and the odd larger one, some good surf at places that thrive on smaller, cleaner conditions (southwest France, Nazaré), but nothing like what we are seeing now."
And the last time we saw something similar? "The pattern reminds me a bit of the beginning of the Extreme Winter of 2013-14, when there were a few small to medium, good-quality swells in the autumn, and one solid, long-period swell towards the end of October (which we all got excited about). Around the first week in December, I could see something special forming on the long-term charts, and it looked like everything was about to change, drastically. About a week later, the North Atlantic went into overdrive for the next two months, with a continuous run of never-before-seen swells, hitting 30 feet on a regular basis with periods over 20 secs, and causing unprecedented coastal erosion along the west coasts of Europe."
Remember Hercules? Yeah. That winter. If you don't see here!