We were promised a busy start to 2016 in all the pre El Niño hype and so far he’s delivered. The past month and a half alone has already produced a handful of XXL swells for Hawaii and California in a window that’s expected to last through March. And if you live in either state right now the odds are you’ve been surfed out on at least one evening in the past two weeks. We’ve already seen Garrett McNamara break his arm in a massive Mavs wipeout, Niccolo Porcella gave us another painfully creative wipeout of his own, and a plethora of other highlights out of Jaws. It might be too early to say for sure, but if trends stay on pace for the Pacific’s next XXL event we could be gearing up for the biggest surf yet (at least for Jaws, in particular).
A “significant swell alert” from Surfline outlined a current system over the Central North Pacific with models predicting seas up to 45-50 feet, hitting Hawaii later this week. “Expect a strong Northwest swell to build in and peak Friday across the islands,” says Surfline forecaster Jon Warren. “Most of the well exposed spots will be overloaded or maxed out while the big wave reefs will shine.” Translation: Expect some massive days at Jaws.
Meanwhile, Magic Seaweed’s outlook on the waves brewing for the end of this week is worded a little more boldly, saying “on paper this is the one.” While the MSW report takes into account the storm of factors that have to come together for this next swell, a potential good outlook on trades and early size readings could easily bump the numbers beyond what we’ve seen so far. To put things in perspective, an early MSW model of the Pe’ahi Challenge swell in early December peaked (overnight) at 13ft@18 seconds. The same Pauwela Buoy peaked at 14.5ft@17 seconds on January 4th, with January 15th forecast set to peak midday at 15.5ft@17 seconds. So at least the earliest signs are pointing to something BIG.
As for the West Coast, Warren says much of Northern California could have the same fate as Hawaii by the time the same waves reach the Golden State this weekend. Maxed out surf for exposures with big wave spots lighting up like a Christmas tree. As for Southern California, you might be in for some treats. The same problems with size up north aren’t expected to be an issue in the southern region and some half decent weather (i.e., not stormy) should make for another good run of overhead surf. The El Niño gifts just keep coming and who are we to turn them down?