Hurricane Season is the time period from May to November where strong storms are more likely to form and cause damage to property, human life, storm surge, and flood damage. They also create big swells which offer opportunities to catch great waves when the track lines up. These storms are somewhat predictable. Although, intense work goes into tracking and forecasting a storm to properly know where it will end up or what track it will take. In 2020, it was a fairly active Hurricane Season. Being based off of the Mid Atlantic coast we saw a good amount of solid surf throughout the season.
The well known storms that provided the Mid Atlantic and East Coast with swell were: Hurricane Isaias, Hurricane Teddy, Hurricane Paulette, Hurricane Epsilon, Tropical Storm Fay, Tropical Storm Kyle, Tropical Storm Omar. Those being the named storms that brought swell there were also the no name pop up storms that produced swell. Overall 2020 was a busy Hurricane Season with many storms that brushed up and down the East Coast.
A storm that stuck out in particular in terms of wave quality was Hurricane Teddy. The hurricane formed from a tropical wave off the coast of Africa on September 10th, 2020. As it moved across the Atlantic it intensified from wind shear, and was labeled a massive hurricane on September 17th, 2020. On September 21st, 2020 and 22nd Teddy made its way up the Northeast coast with an outstanding track. New Jersey, New England and surrounding areas saw great barrels and waves thanks to Teddy. Below is an image tack of Teddy and a photo of Ben Gravy from Hurricane Teddy.
Ben in the tube. Photo: David Nilsen
A second storm that stuck out and provided the east coast with outstanding conditions was Hurricane Epsilon. Epsilon lit up the east coast the week of October 19th, 2020. Epsilon provided the east coast with swell for days. Below is an image of Epsilon’s track and a photo of Sam Hammer by Ryan Mack.
Hurricane Epsilon’s Track (Courtesy of NOAA)
Sam Hammer doing what he does best during Hurricane Epsilon. Photo: Ryan Mack
2021’s Hurricane Season kicked off with a slow start, though overall it was an active season. On July 9th 2021, Elsa was directly off the coast of NJ which provided bombing surf to Jersey and other parts of the East Coast. Below is a photo of Elsa’s track courtesy of NOAA & Google images.
The Cowboyy Surfing Tropical Storm Elsa. Photo: Mark Ricci
Hurricane Henri was a storm that came up off the east coast the week of August 20th, 2021. This storm was forecasted to bring big swell to NJ and the surrounding areas which it did not. However, it did provide some decent sized swell from the storm ranging from four foot to about head high waves in select locations. Normally, these storms make a right turn as they go out to sea and dissipate due to the cold water. Hurricanes and storms thrive on warm water, the warm water and low wind shear acts as an intensifier giving the storm more power. However, when a storm hits cold water and dies off.
However, for Henri this wasn't the case. As for New Jersey it stayed off the coast and provided the coast with good surf for multiple days. Sets were around chest to shoulder high in select locations. Henri weakened to a tropical storm and shifted its track west 75 miles towards Rhode Island. Cape Cod did not see much damage or stormy weather. They experienced wind gusts of 35mph and some rain but that was it for them. Connecticut and New York also were hit by Henri which caused lots of flood damage in the various states. Henri is a prime example of how unpredictable these storms really are. Its track showed it as a direct hit on Cape Cod, then it shifted west 75 miles and was a direct hit on Rhode Island.
September has been proven to be the most active time during hurricane season. Hurricane Larry sent surf all over the east coast over a three day period from September 8th, 2021 to September 11th, 2021. Over those three days the east coast saw great waves from Hurricane Larry and was deemed the “Hurricane Swell of the year” in terms of wave size and conditions. Here in New Jersey, it was the biggest New Jersey surfers have seen in the past few years coming from hurricane season. Many surfers broke or damaged boards and many photographers camped out on the beach shooting photos until they got a money shot. Many great photos were captured up and down the coast. Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and North Carolina saw outstanding surf from Larry and that is only a part of the coast. Larry had a swell period of 16 seconds and some breaks up were even up to 17 seconds, which sent massive walls all over.
October 2021 started off with some solid surf from Hurricane Sam. Sam’s swell spread all over the coast providing swell all over. Sam was the last largely amped up swell from Hurricane Season. Though the east coast did see solid surf throughout the month of October and into the first week of November 2021.
Hurricane Larry’s Track (Courtesy of NOAA)
Hurricane Larry in New Jersey. Photo: Jersey Mike