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Special Forecast Update: O’Neill Wave of the Winter

We’ve entered into a very active phase of storms in the North Pacific, fueled – at least in part – by tropical cyclones in the West Pacific. Back-to-back swells will be born from this first round of storms and impact the Hawaiian Islands late this week and over the weekend.

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Animation of storms and incoming swell.

The first of these swells is on the way courtesy of a recent hurricane-force low to the north-northwest of Hawaii. While this storm was quite strong, its less than ideal track away from Hawaii – and strongest wind and seas aimed to the north and east of the islands – will limit size somewhat. Consistency will also be at least somewhat limited thanks to the track of the storm. That being said, we still anticipate solid surf for the North Shore late Thursday and Friday.

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Direction will be fairly north — which isn’t the ideal direction for Pipe, although we should still see the occasional gem on Friday as the swell peaks, as well as good waves at Backdoor and Off the Wall. And while Sunset hasn’t traditionally factored into the O’Neill Wave of the Winter conversation, this is a great direction for long, freight-training rights to develop along that stretch of reef. The likeliest time to see Wave of the Winter contenders on the Surfline cams will be Friday morning when light south to south-southeast wind should set up buttery conditions before a light sea breeze may set up somewhat mushy conditions for the afternoon.

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A more westerly west-northwest to northwest swell will follow closely behind, building quickly through Saturday afternoon and holding solid size on Sunday. This is a better direction for classic Pipe waves to occur and while wind direction won’t be ideal over the weekend – east-northeast to northeast – it should be light enough for some great waves to go down.

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Going further out, there is more surf on the long range radar with another run of back-to-back northwest swells likely for the 21st-24th. Trade winds will likely be back in full force by then, but they should also be from a favorable straight E direction so confidence is increasing that an additional few days of great waves will occur before November wraps.

View: 2019/20 Wave of the Winter Homepage

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