The E/ESE swell will hold nicely through the first half of the work week with generally light wind. The area of low pressure that developed in the Atlantic several hundred miles east of the central Bahamas is forecast to intensify (sub-tropical storm Arlene?) while drifting slowly north then northeast during the first half of the work week. Consequently, the ongoing ESE/E swell will spread out in period and transition to a longer period ground swell while holding good size through mid-week, and wind should stay favorably offshore each morning to light onshore in the afternoon.
1-3 Day Wind/Wave Forecast
MONDAY: Wind near calm to light offshore early in the morning, becoming onshore 5-14 mph in the afternoon with waves 2-2.5′ (occ +) in moderate to occ longer period ESE swell with a dominant period of 10 seconds.
TUESDAY (28Mar): Wind light SW/S in the morning, becoming S/SE 6-15 mph by early afternoon with waves 2-3′ (occ +) in moderate to occ long period ESE ground swell with a dominant period of 10 seconds.
WEDNESDAY: A very warm day with wind SW 5-13 mph in the morning, becoming side-onshore from the S/SSE 5-15 mph by afternoon with waves holding at 2-occ 3′ in moderate to occ longer period ESE ground swell with a dominant period of 11 seconds.
4-7 Day Wind/Wave Forecast
Please Note: This extended portion of the surf forecast will periodically be extended and continually tweaked, or even radically changed (up or down), as model analysis of potential wave-generating weather systems warrant. In other words, don’t plan your sick days more than 3 days in advance based on this portion of the forecast.
THURSDAY: Wind SSW in the morning, becoming SE 5-15 mph in the afternoon with waves 1.5-occ 2.5′ (occ + sets am) in long period ESE/E ground swell.
FRIDAY (31Mar): Wind SW 6-14 mph, becoming south later in the afternoon with waves 1-2′ (occ + sets am) in less consistent long period easterly ground swell.
SATURDAY: Wind WNW/NW 5-15 mph, becoming north later in the day with waves dropping down to 1-occ/inc 2′ in fading long period E/ENE ground swell.
SUNDAY: Wind light NW/N in the morning, becoming NE 5-13 mph by afternoon with waves 1-occ 1.5′ in moderate period NE swell.
BEYOND THE 4-7 DAY FORECAST NOTE: After a relatively mild second half of February and a very warm first week of March with consistently rideable waves, a dip in the polar jet stream set up on the 14th of March, funneling some of the coldest air of the winter our way for several days. Models accurately forecast this outbreak over a week in advance. Latest model runs indicate weather will return to seasonally mild levels accompanied by periodic upticks rotating NE/E/SE swell when the lengthy wave-generating fetch from strong high pressure areas building behind late season cold fronts sets up over the western Atlantic Ocean..
2016 Hurricane Season Summary
Hurricane Otto landfilled near the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border as a strong Category 2 hurricane- an unprecedented (in modern history) event capping off what has been an exceptionally unusual record-setting 2016 Hurricane Season. This is a good link that highlights the 2016 hurricane season, the most active in Florida in the past decade.
Summary of tropical activity impacting and/or producing surf in Florida (to date):
During July the Atlantic Basin was remarkably devoid of easterly waves and significant convection, with the zero tropical cyclogenesis. After a remarkably quite July, the tropical Atlantic and western Caribbean Sea remained quite through mid-August. The second half of the month was increasingly active. Major Hurricane Gaston had 120 mph winds and generated 35′ seas well out to sea in the open mid-Atlantic during the last week in August, providing the best swell of the summer (to date). Then tropical wave 99L struggled through the Caribbean, entered the Gulf and transformed into Category 1 Hermine, slamming the Big Bend of Florida with 80 mph winds to start September before becoming a non-tropical low by Labor Day, then meandered offshore from the northeast coast for several days radiating a NE groundswell.
Tropical Storm Ian tracked NW/N in the central Atlantic in mid-September, then re-curved well east of Bermuda and accelerated off to the NE. The minor ground swell from this Ian peaked along Florida’s east coast on the 16th of September. Yo-yo Julia pumped in a moderate period NE swell as she meandered off the SE US coast as a depression/storm for nearly a week in mid-September. Looking ahead for the next tropical system, impressive tropical wave Invest 95L moved off the African coast early in the work week and quickly became TD12 and then tropical storm Karl on a WNW track across the central Atlantic. The fetch associated with distant Karl contributed a moderate-size weekend ground swell before the tropical storm departed into the North Atlantic.
Major hurricane Nicole slammed Bermuda as a strong Category 3, then weakened as she slowly tracked ENE over the cooler waters of the north Atlantic, then amazingly regained tropical characteristics and hurricane status (near 40N latitude!!) and is generating 40’+ seas with an expansive fetch while slowly meandering east before racing NE as an extra-tropical gale.
Hurricane Matthew progressed westward across the central Caribbean Sea, intensifying from a tropical storm into a Category 4/5 hurricane (inside of 36 hours!), then tracked north across western Haiti and the eastern tip of Cuba, through the central/northern Bahamas, then just offshore along Florida’s east coast, pummeling beaches from the Cape northward with hurricane force clocking NE/N/NW winds.
While Category 1 Hurricane Hermine ended Florida’s record setting 10+ year absence of a hurricane landfall, Major hurricane Matthew’s near miss continued the lack of Category 3 or stronger hurricanes hitting areas along the state’s lengthy coastline, and many communities in Florida are still long over due for a Major Hurricane.
Looking at the big picture, the western Caribbean Sea and southern Gulf of Mexico were the areas to monitor for late season tropical cyclogenesis, and the western Atlantic is the region to watch for extra tropical coastal low development in winter. Of note, William Gray, the pioneer of long range hurricane activity prediction, died April 16, 2016 at the age of 86. Here is a link to the impact the 2016 hurricane activity had on our coast: Florida beaches face sand shortage