I did a little researching after someone from out-of-state asked “Is this what summer is like here for waves?” and what I found wasn’t the most enlightening stats one would like to see.
While the Pacific has it’s El Niño (warming) & La Niña (cooling) phases, averaging somewhere around every five years for the intense seasons, the Atlantic has the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which is the study of long term change of sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. The “warm phase” of the AMO typically leads to more active tropical activity, and obviously the cooling down phase does the opposite. We have been in the warm phase since 1995, but the scientists who track these temp changes believe we may be trending out of this. But wait…
With the Pacific having one of it’s most intense El Niño events this last winter, creating literally non-stop wave action for the west coast, the likelihood of a La Niña event is looking very promising. What does this mean? As the earth balances out the temperature gradients globally, more than likely a La Niña event will keep the Atlantic tropical waters warmer, raising the chances even further to promote Atlantic tropical activity.
One of the studies I found has an above average tropical activity for the surf season for the Outer Banks southward, but only at 60%. While the mid-Atlantic states are 50/50 and new England northward dropping to 40%. These numbers were created by cross referencing data with past phases of El Niño/La Nina and a 30 year historical swell database. I personally don’t mind those numbers since it points to not much tropical activity making it north towards us, still got them Sandy jitters over here.
Average Surf Heights – June/July/August
Now here’s some of the more polarizing facts:
From Sebastian Inlet, FL to Jacksonville, FL suffer the worst at only 1.5 feet.
While from Hatteras to L.B.I., NJ see an average of 2.5 feet.
N.Y. is lumped in with New England averaging only 1.5 feet.
Monthly Days of Good to Great
OK, this is where it kicks you in the pants to realize how much it sucks on the east coast. N.J. gets two days in June, 2.9 in July and 3.6 days in August of good to great days. N.Y. is worst, averaging out with 2.3 in June, 1.8 in July and 2.8 in August. Despite the rise of average days in August across the east coast, all surfers wait for the statistical peak in hurricane season, which is September 10 and most often when the UnSound surf contests would run (smart guys!). The unfortunate meaning of these numbers is that in N.Y. over the entire summer, we average out only seven days of chest high or bigger. </sigh!>
So there are the numbers exposed. Ugly as sin but we have a kick-ass life style here in Rockaway that makes up for the lack of waves. And while these numbers suck, the eternal optimist is always watching the surf cam for an evening glass-off after the last thunderstorms rolled through, grabbing a rare evening session amongst mates, when that happens you mostly couldn’t care how big it is.
And remember, always Pull In!!!
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