Words by UK forecaster Jamie Bateman.
FINAL UPDATE: Thursday, February 9. The final swell from this North Atlantic triple storm extravaganza is arriving soon.
The peak of the second swell will hit mainland Europe tomorrow but spots along Portugal and France have already felt the impact yesterday – we’ll have much more on that soon. After that, the swell will slowly tail off.
Then, the third and final swell of this run moves in for the UK and Ireland by the weekend. Let’s break down the next few days:
Today, there’s north wind on the north coast of Cornwall. It’s due to ease, but the conditions will look a little bumpy. The south coast will have small but fun-sized sets, chest high generally with offshore wind. The reefs will have bigger sets – best of it will be as the tide drops back in the morning. Nothing special in North Devon, although the onshore, N wind will be easing PM so most breaks will be very doable.’ Into South Wales and the Gower looks to be the spot, with a decent size and clean conditions.
Friday, the surf eases but that won’t be a bad thing for Cornwall. Good, S wind at fist light, SW in the afternoon but not strong. A decent day, especially at those S wind protected corners (like South Fistral, for example). Stronger SW wind in North Devon and South Wales so nothing worthy here.
By the weekend, it’s storm three. Another round of W/WNW swell is on the way for Saturday, this will be showing late morning and peaking in the afternoon in Cornwall with 2-3ft overhead sets later in the day, and smaller surf in North Devon, timing well with low tide. Swell for South Wales arrives a little later, so a sundown session will see the biggest sets. There will be fun-size surf already in the water before that swell comes in. Good conditions everywhere with light, variable wind. Swell slowly eases Sunday, wind switches SE and breezy in Cornwall. Good surf generally across the board. (no pun intended)
We’re also watching the potential for another swell next week but we’ll keep you posted with how this is looking. Stay tuned for coverage from this beautiful run of waves.
EARLIER: The North Atlantic is about to go in to crazy mode. Right now, three storms are setting up a five-to-seven day run of swell next week – a much welcome run of waves after a mid-January slow down for the likes of the UK and Ireland.
There were a few days of fun a week or so ago, but we haven’t seen anything like this in quite some time. Monday through Thursday of next week will be your best chances to surf, with wave heights peaking in the double overhead plus range for parts of western Europe.
The way this all plays out will mean that conditions are better earlier in the week for the UK and Ireland, and as the swell moves south, France, Portugal and beyond will light up later in the week.
As for how this will all come together; a tight, compact low pressure system formed in the middle of the North Atlantic on Thursday February 2, and will move NNE to the west of Iceland over this weekend.
This system, although fast moving, will set up the first pulse of mid-period, W/WNW swell that will show in south west UK and Ireland late on Saturday, before pushing southwards in to Western Europe on Sunday. The swell will gradually ease off through Sunday and Monday.
After that, storm two, with more power than the first. It will move off the coast of Nova Scotia on Saturday, and deliver a series of mid-to-long-period, W/WNW swells, which will begin to move into western exposures in Ireland and Cornwall late on Monday, then peaking Tuesday and Wednesday, then taking the foot off the gas on Thursday (a day later further south into mainland Europe).
And we’re not done there, oh no. Another low pressure will move off Nova Scotia on Tuesday and this system, as shown by forecast models today, will likely provide another shot of W/WNW swell for Friday Saturday, again a day later further south into France and Portugal.
Let’s break it down by region:
For Scotland and Ireland the surf is big, we’re talking double overhead and bigger but conditions come good from Sunday onwards, so there will be plenty of options in those myriad of tucked away corners, where the surf will be head high and offshore.
Exposed beaches in the UK’s south west will see surf around the one-to-three foot overhead range, with bigger sets at those deep water reefs in Cornwall and smaller surf on the south coast of England and in the Severn Estuary, South Wales. Conditions will generally be good with offshore wind at most spots. The fly in the ointment on Sunday will be the more exposed beaches in Cornwall, these will see a tricky NE wind early morning before offshore wind will smooth things out by the afternoon. This NE wind will temper conditions a little in SW France on Sunday afternoon.
As the swell moves south, France will be solid all week with double overhead surf during the peak on Wednesday and Thursday. The downside here will be long-period energy will overwhelm most exposed beaches, but breaks that can handle the size will look very much the part.
The Basque Country and Northern Spain will do better at handling the swell energy and will be pumping all week. Spots with the best exposure to the N will be around the 3ft+ overhead range, with bigger surf at those deep water spots.
Portugal will be on the cook. Those big-wave breaks will be showing double/triple overhead sets on Wednesday as the swell peaks with way more manageable 2-3ft overhead surf prior to and for the remainder of the week. Offshore wind and clean conditions all week.
With back-to-back swells as complex as this, keep an eye on your local conditions, and we’ll update this piece on Monday, February 6, as the storms move through.