The start of the work week will see the 1′ surf continue as Florida’s east coast continues to experience an extended run of small waves. A minor uptick in easterly swell should be noted by mid-week, with lingering rideable waves leading into what looks like another downturn into the 1′(+/-0.5′) range for the last weekend of February. By month’s end there is some indication that we may see a decent multiple-day east mix swell carrying into the first days of March.
1-3 Day Wind/Wave Forecast
MONDAY: Wind light NW early, becoming N/NE 5-13 mph with waves starting out around 1/2′ (+/-0.5′), up a bit during the afternoon in close to moderate period mixed NE/E swell with a dominant period of 6 seconds.
TUESDAY: Wind light early, then NE/E 5-14 mph with waves1/2-1′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period ENE swell with a dominant period of 8 seconds.
WEDNESDAY (22Feb): Wind E/SE 5-15 mph with waves up a bit to 1-occ 1.5′ (+/-0.5′) moderate to occ longer period ENE/E mix swell with a dominant period of 9 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 SE/S 6-14 mph with waves holding at 1-1.5′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period E/ESE swell.
FRIDAY: Wind SW/S 5-15 mph with waves 1-occ 1.5′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate to occ longer period ESE swell.
SATURDAY (25Feb): Wind W/NW 5-12 mph in the morning, becoming variable to onshore in the afternoon with waves 1′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period east mix swell.
SUNDAY: Wind NW/N 5-13 mph with waves occ 1′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period east swell.
MONDAY: Wind N/NE 7-16 mph with waves up some to 1-1.5′ (+/-0.5′) in close to moderate period NE swell.
TUESDAY (28Feb): Wind E/SE 6-15 mph with waves 1-2′ (+/-0.5′) in moderate period easterly swell.
BEYOND THE 4-7 DAY FORECAST NOTE: The heart of February will see several New England nor’easters as fast-paced lows ride the northern jet stream across the northern US, emerging into the Atlantic into the Gulf of Maine well out of our swell window. Our best hope for improvement will come from the ESE fetch established by a strong mid-Atlantic high pressure ridge during the second half of the next work week. Watch for updates to the 4-7 Day Forecast that incorporate the latest data on potential swell source as my work schedule allows..
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