Strong NW Winds Can Create Perfect Surfing Conditions
One thing is for sure, northeast Florida gets MUCH colder than south Florida this time of year. A strong cold front pushed through early this morning, and now that the rain has ended, gusty NW winds are bringing in cooler air. The NWS Marine Forecast for St. Augustine coastal waters is calling for NW winds 20-25 with gusts to gale force this evening and overnight with seas building to 6-9′ well offshore. When you wake up tomorrow morning, you may see the familiar “elephants walking” on the horizon.
So what exactly is a “refraction swell” anyway? There are alot of theories, and having done alot of research on the idea, I haven’t found anyone that can explain it precisely. However, here’s my take on it. The Gulf Stream is a strong current that pushes NNE up the East Coast of Florida, very close to the shore along Palm Beach County. Between the Gulf Stream and the inshore coastal waters, there is a turbulent boundary between the very warm waters of the current, and the often times south flowing eddy current shoreward. Strong NW winds create a strong longshore current from N to S that pushes down the coast. NW wind swell created from Palm Beach northward along the coast refracts off the edge of the Gulf Stream, and bends back towards the coast.
It is certainly counterintuitive, because the locations that benefit from this type of swell event have beaches that face ESE, away from the initial swell direction. But there is no question that the waves get really good in southern Palm Beach County on events like this. If you end up driving south and score, send us some pictures and let us know if it was worth the trip! As shown in the video below…you likely won’t be the only one there enjoying the epic conditions.
~ The Weather Mon