Tropical Storm Debby Atlantic Forecast

Debby played ball nicely with our early call for an Easterly track into the Atlantic and her onward path looks more assured now. However the surf outlook is mixed at best for the US East coast and even more muted for Europe beyond this.

Every once in while with Hurricane forecasting it’s better to be lucky than smart. With original TS Debby outlooks suggesting a westerly track and surf relief for Texas we saw a fairly rapid shift in the NHC prognosis to a more northerly track a day later. Keeping our eyes closely on the main model we use here at MSW we did mention an Atlantic scenario in play a couple of days ago and over night last night the models started to converge around this outcome, such that the official NHC guidance is now very much in line with our suggestion that the storm could take a track across Florida and re-intensify before heading up the US east coast, in fact the first part of that has already come to pass. Easy to say I told you so after a lucky bet lands you a winner.

Image Courtesy National Hurricane Center

So what does this mean for surf? Well the principle problem is Hurricanes generate swell primarily in their direction of travel and if she heads NW as forecast that’s away from the whole east coast and on into open ocean.

The larger weaker low that stood over Florida yesterday and last night did push some waves north towards the Outer Banks, models suggesting a couple of days of fun swell in the head high range at the better spots, with winds generally looking favourable for those South facing spots exposed to this swell.

A small area of fetch also throws wind swell towards northern and central Florida with waves in a similar, or perhaps slightly larger size range, building today and running into tomorrow. But beaches here really will be sitting in the fetch with onshore or crosshore winds to contend with, strong at times.

Further north surfers are looking at some very very modest wind swell reinforced later in the weekend by all but a foot of mid period Debby fury, we’re not wave snobs but on the latest data ‘better than nothing’ is the best we’re going to give it.

Nova Scotia surfers, normally looking on the start of Hurricane season as just reward for surviving another freezing winter should be similarly disappointed, at least given the backdrop of a reasonable run of onshore wind swell over the past few days and on into this week. On her current track Debby is going to add little additional to the mix, although a slight drop in the recent wind plus a bump in the swell period is possible for early next week which could dish up some reasonable surf in the head or just over range at the best exposed spots.

On into Europe we’re always looking for one of two scenarios; a more westerly track with greater intensity (it’s a real rarity to see genuine tropical storm swell the other side of the Atlantic) or much more usually a tropical storm moving further north and re-intensifying as a cold core system, giving a boost to a generally slack North Atlantic this time of year. For this scenario the outlook is, once again, poor. With a large high pressure mid Atlantic and a weak north / south jetstream where we’d want to see a strong west / east flow to get excited. Not to say there isn’t a chance of swell in about 10-12 days time in Northern Europe from Tropical Storm Debby, she’s heading in the right direction to generate some meaningful fetch, but nothing at this stage to hold your breath for.

It’s Tropical Storm season, everything can change, but right now don’t pin your hopes on Debby for much of anything surf related.