Swells Expected for the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational

A pair of large north-west swells are forecast to broach the Hawaiian islands during the latter part of this week, delivering swell to Waimea Bay that might possibly be large enough for the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau, at Waimea Bay, Oahu.

The first, arriving late today, and peaking overnight, is estimated to deliver swell in the 12 to 15 foot (Hawaiian scale) range that will persist into Friday, delivering wave face heights of around 20 to 25 feet. The minimum swell requirement for “The Eddie” is 20 feet Hawaiian scale (wave face heights of around 30 to 40 feet).

The second, possibly larger swell has organizers on their watch. At this time, the episode is expected to fill in throughout the day on Sunday, January 13, peaking late afternoon, with swell predicted to be in the 15 to 18 foot range. It is possible that the swell could be larger and therefore is under watch for a possible start to the Quiksilver Big Wave.

The short-range outlook is difficult to predict at this time, given the absence of all-important Buoy 51001. Located 170 nautical miles west north-west of Kauai island, Buoy 51001 is an important barometer for true swell height readings, giving an accurate indication of swell that will hit the North Shore of Oahu within 10 hours from the reading. This buoy is currently out of commission and is not likely to be repaired until March, 2008. Its absence subjects the fine-tuning of swell forecasts to some speculation and predictions can be higher or lower than what actually materializes.

Currently, due to the presence of high pressure over the Islands, attributable to this winter’s La Nina pattern, storm systems are located further north than is typical for this time of year. The further south (closer to the Hawaiian Islands) they move, generally the larger the surf that is generated. The storm systems are also moving rapidly because of this high pressure, resulting in a limited fetch area that generates swell for Hawaii. Essentially, the slower a storm system moves, the longer it has to generate intense wave action. The next couple of days will reveal the progress of the second storm and the likelihood of extra-large surf being generated.

This latest pair of systems will be monitored closely for changes heading into the weekend. Any change in forecast will be reported.

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