UPDATE JANUARY 26th
This is a follow up on the theory of the SE Florida refraction swell phenomenon. Not only is this plausible it seems likely. Green arrows indicating swell direction. WNW winds blowing into the Bahamas pushing volumes of ocean surface into the Islands. It can not naturally flow through because there is volume of water blocking its escape this in turn causes a ripple effect.
As the ripple effect takes place it bounces back into the Gulfstream where the Gulfstream adds Southerly energy in effect developing a loop current bringing the swell back to the coast.
This was the 12Z GFS RUN 1-23 850MB wind vort map for Monday into Tuesday. Down at the surface the winds were lighter than shown but still 35-40KTS WSW as the front swung through.
Going into Tuesday subsiding.
For perspective North of the Cape. This is for the ones who think it comes from Northerly Swell. This defies logic that somehow a Northerly Swell can develop under West winds of 35-40KTS.
One has to wonder, if you were able to move the Bahamas North 350 Miles what the effect would be. This is the only real difference between South Florida and North Florida along with the Gulfstream further offshore.
All for now stay tuned for the forecast update. We are entering a Real-Time Phase were the NE Atlantic looks to explode over the next 10 days.
ORIGINAL POST BELOW
For years, many have wondered about the theory of a Refraction Swell for portions of Florida’s SE Coast. We like to call it a REEF Rack-tion Swell.
The main theory goes like this. During winter months with passing of fronts when the offshore winds come through Florida fast and hard out of the WNW/NW, through the Bahamas and down the coast for a period of no less than 24HRS of winds 30 plus knots, this combined with the interaction of the Gulfstreams South to North component, will and does produce surf for portions of the SE Florida Coast. Most South Floridian Surfers have known about this phenomenon for years. Guys like James Knill of Amanda James Gallery in Boynton Beach tells us he has seen it almost every-time over the last 20yrs. That it used to be a secret and now its just a matter of finding which break is breaking best
Heres one of Knill’s shot back from January 8th 2017.
We dont discuss it much in our forecast updates because its a South Florida thing. Plus we dont want to be seen as the reason for adding to the line up. With the advent of Social Media the secret is no more.
Here’s one from Bargain Bob Baggett of yesterdays REEF Rack-tion Swell January 25th 2017.
Here’s a look at yesterdays HI-RES EOSDIS out of NASA of the developing Coastal Storm for the Mid-Atlantic. Had this system been 250 miles or more to the East this would have opened up a strong NE fetch creating NE groundswell conditions.
Heres the zoom of South Florida. Take note of the sediment and ocean color change in the coastal waters of West Florida. This is due to high surf behind largest seas recorded for the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane HER-MEEN 2016. Red arrow signifies atmospheric flow and the offshore wind component for SE Florida. Onshore flow for the West Coast of Florida hence the sediment. Looking over at the Bahamas we also see ocean color change. This is partly due to sediment and ocean depth of the coral reefs of the Bahamas.
So think about this when looking at the image below. You have the undercurrent of the Gulfstream passing South to North between the Florida Coastline and the Bahamas. You have offshore winds blowing the ocean out to sea and through the Bahamas. Had the Bahama Islands not been there, the ocean would proceed towards the East unimpeded like what occurs North of Fort Pierce when these fronts come passing through. Theres nothing blocking it and when the winds are coming out of the NW North of Ft Pierce this can often times be the beginning phase of NW Swell headed for PR and Islands.
So here lies the REEF Rack-tion Swell theory. Large WNW Seas/Swells hinting the reefs of the Bahamas and bouncing back towards the SE Florida Coast then aided by the energy of the South to North undercurrent of the Gulf Stream. This is why some call it a “Bounce Swell” because its bouncing back off the Bahamas in effect like a backwash. This is the opposite of the Bahama Block during Hurricane season. That phenomenon is that if a large enough Easterly Swell is generated by a Tropical Storm or Hurricane the swell can pass through the gaps in the islands reaching the South East Florida Coast. I first learned about this years ago from Chris Beeman of Slavetothewave.com. When it doesnt happen this is called the Bahama Block.
As far as the upcoming forecast for the Atlantic the Atlantic is on lock down on all swell generating systems for the East U.S. Coast The pattern is set for producing a Westerly swell component into the North Atlantic with everything headed to the other side of the pond for the foreseeable future. Outside shot at some NW Swell for the Islands setting up next week.
All for now stay tuned to the forecast.
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