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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Surfing on US Sports Net! Pipeline/Backdoor and 2018 Starts Out Surfingly

A quick surf check yesterday at Banzai Pipeline and Backdoor. Music: Surf Report - Ace Of Spades (Motörhead Surf Instrumental Cover)

2018 Starts Out Surfingly

After a slow end to 2017, the new year's surf gets off to an above average start

  Don't know about you, but New Year's Day sure feels like it was months ago, not just a touch over three weeks past. While 2017 as a whole had many memorable moments, the closing month of December was generally lacking for memorable swell events across the US. But that all changed once the calendar;flipped to 2-0-1-8.
Here's a look at the numbers from around the country over the first half, of the first month, of the new year. With weak La Nina conditions in place, we could compare this month's activity to the six previous weak La Nina seasons in our 30+ year report database. But as you can see below, the first few weeks of the month stood out on both coasts, but for different reasons, no matter what years you use to compare. 

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Cold is probably the best way to describe the East Coast the first half of January as the northern portion of the East Coast spent half of the days below the freezing line. Even Florida received snow -- on more than one occasion. But with the record-breaking cold came waves, and plenty of them. While January is usually one of the slowest months of the year for surf in most regions, that was not the case over the start of the new year.

As you can see above, most zones came in well above the average surf height first half of the month but the number of 'fair or better' condition days was lower than one would hope with all that surf in the water. This was due to the strong fronts and powerful coastal storms (like Grayson) that brought elevated winds along with the winter weather and bone-chilling cold. The number of favorable condition days was actually well above average as well but this had more to do with prior years often having sub-par surf, meaning even offshore winds don't make knee high waves 'fair or better.'


On the West Coast, unfortunately, the final month of 2017 will be remembered for the wildfires that plagued Southern California. Those fires were eventually contained, allowing all to enjoy the benefits of the of the conditions that exacerbated the fires, the offshore winds. But the memory of the fires was quickly rehashed as a storm impacted the region, bringing much-needed rain to the state during the second week of the month. Problem was, the wildfires had burned the ground bare, creating hazardous flooding and mudslides atop the recently scorched earth. Mudslides decimated the town of Montecito, and not only did the rains generate the usual no-surfing-for-72hrs warnings for SoCal, the rain and mud combo shut down beaches of Santa Barbara and Ventura -- during pumping WNW swell, nonetheless.

The wave heights on the West Coast were not as far above climatology as we saw over on the East Coast the first half of January but the early days stood out in other ways. Central and NorCal were a bit above normal in surf height and the number of days over chest high, while SoCal was a touch below their usual January start with regard to surf height and half the usual number of days over chest high. What stood out on the West Coast were the conditions over the first half of the month. Multiple offshore day runs bookended the storm that moved through during the second week of the month. Most of the indicator spots analyzed saw at least two-thirds of the days with 'fair or better' conditions. Those favorable conditions made sure any surf in the water didn't go to waste... unless you were looking to surf in SoCal after the rain, of course.

Who'da thunk it?

If you were in Vegas for New Year's Eve and had the opportunity to place a wager on the best surf spot on the East Coast for the start of the new year, what location would you have picked? Would South Beach, Miami even cross your radar? You might have laid a fiver down as a longshot since the odds would likely have paid well, and hey, who knows? Well, when reviewing the data from early in the month, this little data tidbit stood out to us -- South Beach was the best spot on the East Coast over the opening days of 2018. While other regions were above normal in surf height, SOBE was 250% above its historical surf height average, second in size only to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The issue on the Outer Banks were the conditions, however, where zero out of the first five days were 'fair or better' while SOBE managed favorable conditions on four of the first five days of 2018. We don't even need to bring air and water temps into play, we can just give the early crown to SOBE. Afterall, it's likely the only week of the year it will be able to make this claim. Stand proud, South Beach.


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