A storm named Hercules could produce the biggest waves ever surfed in Europe

hercules
No this isn’t Photoshopped. Winter Storm Hercules has sent huge waves to the Azores, signaling historic waves in Europe. Photo by Antonio Araujo

A storm named Hercules could produce the biggest waves ever surfed in Europe. The North Atlantic storm made landfall Monday morning Europe time, with the above photo posted by Billabongxxl.com and shot by Antonio Araujo in the Azores, providing an indication of what is to follow. Araujo said, "This photo was taken during the passage of the storm Hercules as the waves reached 33 to 36 feet tall on the north coast of the island of Terceira in the Azores."

The forecasts are predicting such huge waves, with potentially favorable winds, that most of the best big-wave surfers in the world are booking flights to various ports in Europe. "We left for Ireland on Saturday, getting on the last ferry before they were all cancelled," said U.K. big-wave charger Andrew Cotton, who towed Garrett McNamara into his world record wave at Nazaré in Portugal in 2011. "We aim to surf Mullaghmore. If the forecast stays true, it could be the biggest anyone has ever surfed it." The video below shows Cotton surfing the Irish wave for which he gained a nomination for the 2012 Ride of the Year at the Billabong XXL awards.

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The Billabong XXL team stated, "62+ FOOT SEAS were recorded via satellite within the Hercules storm over the Atlantic earlier today. The 62095/M6 Buoy off Ireland leaped to near 40 feet a few hours ago before it quit reporting. (It's been knocked offline for the last couple of hours … who knows what it's going through out there right now!) But a 20-foot jump in wave height in just two hours? Hang on, this is about to get really heavy."

Hercules
This photo of Lahich in Ireland, taken by George Karbus and posted on his Facebook page, went viral and showcased the start of Hercules’ fury.

The infamous Portuguese big-wave spot of Nazaré is forecast to be 29 feet at 21 seconds on Monday. The first measurement details the height of the wave, the second the period between waves. The longer the period, the more powerful the surf. European-based Magic Seaweed forecaster Francisco said, "To see any forecast with a figure greater than 20 in either column generally means powerful surf. To see 20+ in both columns is highly unusual." To put it in perspective, the last really big swell that hit Nazaré, in October, that featured Carlos Burle's potentially biggest wave ever ridden saw a forecast of 22 feet at 19 seconds. This swell could be about 33 percent bigger that that!

Belharra, a legendary big-wave spot in France, is also expecting potentially huge waves, with optimum south winds on Tuesday. The video below showcases the offshore reef located outside the town of St. Jean-de-Luz the last time it broke, just before Christmas, and again, this time it has the potential to be much, much bigger.

As we type this, somewhere in the North Atlantic off the European coast, someone will be riding waves that could be break all records. We will let you know as soon as the footage, and the stories, come to hand.

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