Direction can make a big difference in the quality of a swell. Certain spots work well from a certain direction, but horribly from another. This Sunday the first true Northwest swell of the 2010-2011 Hawaii Winter season is forecast to arrive, bringing advisory-level surf to the North Shore, and possibly the first good day at Pipe.
Long-period forerunners are forecast to hit the Northwest Hawaii buoy (@buoy51101) as early as this afternoon, but will likely be hidden on the real-time buoy reports by the existing ENE tradewind swell. The NW component should overtake the wind swell by early Sunday morning, when it becomes the primary swell at 5.9 feet at 17.9 seconds (307°). A quick check of the Northwest Hawaii buoy tomorrow morning is recommended.
A similar situation exists on the Waimea Bay buoy (@buoy51201), with NE wind swell masking the building NW swell until mid-day Sunday. The swell then builds quickly through the afternoon to 6.9 feet at 16.8 seconds (309°) by dusk.
The swell continues to build overnight, peaking early Monday morning (10 feet at 15 seconds 308°), before fading slowly through Tuesday. Throughout its duration the swell direction maintains a steady 309°-307° angle, which is actually a touch West of Northwest.
Perhaps the biggest variable is the current sandbar situation along the Ehukai stretch. The batch of Northerly surf we’ve been experiencing has pushed a lot of sand towards Off The Wall, making for some fun beach break surf, but poor conditions for big Pipe.
The swell’s timing however, given its overnight peak, may provide enough energy to reverse the current sand situation at Pipe by morning, especially given the strong swell angle. We’ll have to wait and see how things shape up Sunday evening, but we’d gamble on being at Ehukai early Monday morning for a peek… could be a jackpot.