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Fri, 10 September 2010

EAST COAST, SOUTH AFRICA: On Tuesday this week, a marauding band of storm troopers assailed the South African coast with the biggest east swell seen in many moons.

Durban was awash as even tow crews struggled to power through the foaming venom of a 10' groundswell packing way more punch than your average cyclone swell.

The South Coast was too heavy to ride, point breaks cracking with the monotous crescendo of slow mo lips cascading onto geographically shallow points - no match for this full frontal invasion: no refractive buffer to hide behind.

East London heaved, but with early morning majesty as a frisky westerly offshore feathered the oncoming battalions of marching walls into a crisp uniformity like you can only get early spring time on the East Coast. Jay Bay of course had cooking waves, as did other traditionally more "rare" points that need east in the swell direction to turn on. Even Muizenberg Corner in Cape Town picked up a few days of fun 3' lines, tho a day later.

Behind the swell lay a classic storm, the Perfect Storm, for want of a better description. A twirl first formed a thousand miles south southeast of Madagascar - a mere whisp of low pressure - late on Friday evening (3 September), a pertinent way to release the Spring.

 
 

By early Sunday, the low pressure system was down to 996 millibars, and a 150 mile wide sausage-shaped wind fetch screamed across the sea for 600 miles at peak velocities of 60 kts, or almost double galeforce. Within eight hours, this narrow-banded fetch was spraying the East Coast with an energy blast of swell buckshot.

The ESE angle of the swell and the ferocity of the storm give away clues as to why winds could be so violent in a low barely shy of 1000 mb - not a very low low by our normally deep sea standards for swell generation in South Africa.

But thank the fat man below, that hoary old High who lurked to the south. He was the key. If it were not for the steady feed of cool air fed by the High into the vacumm of the low's spiralling maw, it would have been a weak wind around the storm's west side, barely giving southern Madagascar a 4' fun session.

 
 

This time, however, this rush of air kinked the peak direction of the storm's main wind area, causing the flash point to occur from east to west along its southern flank, rather than the typical SW to NE trajectory along the western flank.

Travelling for two days, the swell began to arrive late Monday, hitting the Wild Coast and KZN first, then filtering down to the Eastern Cape proper and lastly the Western Cape.

The Quiksilver crew must be relieved that the City of Durban did not allow the Goodwave to run due to lack of shark nets. Durban was out of control…

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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