SolSpot.com Volcom Pipe Pro Surf Forecast
With just a couple of days until the start of the Volcom Pipe Pro waiting period kicks off, it looks like the contest directors won't have to wait long before they have to start making decisions.
We already have a couple of storms cruising through the North Pacific, basically squeezing through the gap between the Hawaii islands and the Aleutians. The first of these systems is already moving off to the NE of Hawaii (and out of the swell window) but it managed to produce some WNW-NW swell as it passed and that energy will be showing along the North Shore for the next few days…it won't be the only swell in the water either…there have been a number of storms spinning up off Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula that have pushed out some energy of their own. This blend of WNW-NNW swells (300-340) will keep the most of the North Shore in shoulder-overhead surf with some sets going a few feet overhead as swells get a chance to combo up. Pipe will be a bit smaller, not seeing many of the bigger sets, but it will still stay surfable enough to keep guys out in lineup for some pre-contest warm up sessions.
Looking at the actual contest waiting period: New NW swell (320-335) will start to arrive on the Sunday (Jan 27) quickly building through the day and then peaking on Monday-Tuesday (Jan 28-29). As it peaks this swell will be good for nearly 8-feet of deepwater energy, coming in at 13-15 second periods, which roughly translates to 10-12 foot faces for the average North Shore spots and nearly 15-foot faces at the top exposed spots like Pipeline.
What is a little discouraging is that Pipeline doesn't particularly "like" the steeper NW angled swells, particularly ones that have such short swell-periods. These have a tendency to either skip past the break, hitting the more truly N facing breaks a few hundred yards down the road, or if Pipe does manage to pull in some of the swell, it comes through as mostly rights for Backdoor.
Weather wise, the trades don't look particularly strong for the start of the waiting period, so it will be interesting to see if the guys on the beach decide to run the event. Likely they will put the contest into a holding pattern and the actual decision will come down to what sort of shape and consistency they see on Monday/Tuesday morning.
The long-range charts are showing that there will be some options to running the event a bit later. In fact, there's a cluster of new storms forecast to form up in about 4-5 days that will push off Japan and move through the more WNW'erly portion of the swell window. You can see on the chart above that this system is a little more "traditionally" positioned when it comes to quality North Shore waves.
And if you follow the forecast out a little farther you see that it actually has a little "kicker" of a front following the first one, which generally helps to flesh out the consistency and medium-long period energy, creating a slightly bigger, more robust, longer lasting swell (sort of like storm Viagra). Part of this is due to the creation of some larger seas by the first storm that are already moving toward Hawaii, this is what we forecast-nerds refer to as an "active sea-state"…so the second embedded storm gets to utilize that existing energy and pile in more on top of it. The second thing that stands out to me is that the following system swings in from the warmer waters down by the Philippine Sea…so there is a strong chance that because it is loaded up with a lot of warm/moist-air mass goodness…meaning it will be stronger and more intense that the current forecast charts are calling it to be—which in the end will help build and even better swell.
Enough science talk. If this new storm forms up the way the charts are calling for it to do, we would see the initial long period, 18-19 second forerunners filling in on Thursday (Jan 31) and the peak of the energy arriving as we move into the first week of February. Hard to tell on the size at this point because of how many different pieces need to move into place, but currently it looks good for at least another 8-feet of deepwater WNW swell (290-310). That comes through with both a better mix of swell-periods as well as a more westerly direction that Pipeline likes.
So there are a lot of options for the contest directors. Do they take the early swell and possibly less than ideal conditions? Or do they wait to see how the second set of storms spin up and wait out for a potentially better storm? The good news is that the NPAC swell window for the Hawaii is pretty shallow…you only get a few days notice once a storm intensifies before the energy starts to show on the beach. In this case we will likely see the new storms forming up on Monday, right as the first swell arrives, giving the Volcom gang a chance to see the conditions set up by the first swell and how strong the next round may get.—Adam Wright, Chief Forecaster, Solspot.com
Make sure to follow the evolving forecast for Pipeline at solspot.com/pipeline-surf-forecast
Get the full detailed breakdown of swell and weather conditions across all of the North Shore on Solspot.com at solspot.com/north-shore