Atlantic Ocean—Scientists may have been studying the effects of two storms named "Old Dominion" and "Nuuk," but what is certain is that those in board shorts , wetsuits and bikinis got the best of the deal.
The movement of the two superstorms over the Atlantic, and their convergence on the Caribbean, guaranteed that surfers would have something to talk about. Tweets abounded with the hashtag #historicswell, noting conditions around Puerto Rico and other Caribbean surfing hotspots with messages such as "Thanks, Nuuk!"
The storms began in the North Atlantic and moved south, pushing huge walls of water ahead of them. Old Dominion originated off the Virginia coast while Nuuk had its origins higher in the North Atlantic and east of the mainland of the United States.
Both storms displayed appreciable "fetch," the line of winds that drive surfer-perfect waves. Those in the Caribbean began noticing the pickup early in March, and by the first full week of the month awe-inspiring photos began appearing of perfect tubes created by the force of these storms’ winds.
Waves reached heights of 38 feet in the North Atlantic, but back in the sunny Southern Atlantic, conditions neared perfection for surfers with wave heights between six and 15 feet. Surfers flooded the waters to take advantage of combers and enjoyed a rare "perfect storm" of conditions that may not be repeated again for years. Surfers in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic all watched anxiously to spot the best times to enjoy the swells without battling near-record winds or storms.
While wind speeds reached 50 knots for Old Dominion and 60 knots for Nuuk, the wind speeds do not mean much without the fetch to pull in water. Surfers enjoyed the brief period of high wave activity precipitated by the near-hurricane force winds that made surfing so exciting for a week in March. However, surfers were advised to use caution as winds took a North-Northeast turn toward the middle of the wave period. With careful planning, however, surfers were able to enjoy the peak of the waves safely.
Back on shore, celebrations continued with those in the know excited about the rare confluence of storms with parties featuring beach dresses and wetsuits instead of black-tie. For surfers and those who follow their activities, the meeting of Old Dominion and Nuuk represented a rare opportunity to enjoy the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
For more information on the rare meeting of these two superstorms, photos of the waves and surfing activity, and weather maps with wave heights and wind speeds, visit http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/anatomy-of-a-swell-march-2013-the-caribbean-swell-of-the-year_94700/