High Surf Alert for Weekend


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Both Hurricane Igor and Tropical Storm Julia are still spinning in the Atlantic Ocean this weekend, far away from Long Island and not forecast to make landfall anywhere along the east coast of North America.

The pair produced a meteorological phenomenon unseen since the 1920s by simultaneously recording 131-mile-an-hour-plus winds earlier this week, each reaching what is described as “Category Four Hurricane” status; only Category Five storms with winds of 155-miles-an-hour-plus rate higher.

While the two storms have stirred up the mid-Atlantic, at more than 1700 nautical miles south-southeast of Montauk, both have been at enough of a distance to have little effect here.

That will change this weekend, waves from Igor rolling in today and staying on through Tuesday as the storm tracks towards the North Atlantic while Julia continues to fade well out at sea.

Waves, Sweeps and Swells

On Friday, Atlantic-facing locales from the Delmarva Peninsula through Cape Cod saw the ocean disturbed by a frontal system that moved off the East Coast Thursday evening.

That fast-moving energetic low-pressure system, which spawned tornado-like conditions in Queens Thursday night, created a powerful east-to-west sand-chewing sweep along our local ocean beaches yesterday and steep, erratic waves for local surfers.

Swellinfo.com, an online weather and surf-forecasting site, reported Friday, Hurricane Igor wave energy “had not yet propagated north of the Outer Banks, although Mid-Atlantic buoys north of the Outer Banks were starting to picking up long period swells.”

Those are the swells to be on the rise locally the next few days.

Ocean-goers will see the energy from Igor in a distinct pattern of line-like waves appearing in somewhat far-apart intervals and moving through the water from the southeast in discernable groupings, or “sets”.

Those swells will start to fill in today, but the greatest rise in surf heights is likely to be most noticeable Sunday morning before finally peaking out late afternoon Monday and dropping off quickly Tuesday afternoon.

Igor to Stay Off Shore

As of 5 a.m. this morning, Igor was a churning Category 2 powerhouse, packing sustained winds of 109 miles-per-hour and in-storm waves topping 40 feet, 510 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda and over 1100 nautical miles south-southeast of Montauk.

Igor is expected to gain strength later today and become a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained 120-mile-an-hour winds, before dropping off in intensity during the day on Monday.

According to swellinfo, Igor’s projected path is likely to be close to that of Hurricane Danielle, an August storm running an arcing course parallel the Atlantic seaboard and never making landfall.

Danielle, which came within 840 nautical miles southeast of Montauk as a Category 1 storm, produced rip currents and storm surges that cut into East End ocean beaches and spiraled out sets that kept surfers busy for a four-day stretch.

Igor is forecast to come as close as 620 nautical miles as a Category 2 Monday morning before turning northeast towards the Grand Banks and diminishing Wednesday and Thursday off Newfoundland.

Anyone going to ocean beaches the next four days to watch the surf should be careful along the water’s edge and be aware that hurricanes produce irregular surges and forceful undertow.