Hurricane Arthur brings Fourth of July waves for local surfers

Date Published: 
July 11, 2014

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Hans Banziger knows that he is at the end of the ride, but he’s not quite ready for the wave to end.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Hans Banziger knows that he is at the end of the ride, but he’s not quite ready for the wave to end.Sussex County surfers traded in their fireworks for front-side airs last Friday, July 4 — celebrating America’s birthday with a short window of waves, thanks to Hurricane Arthur.

With such a limited opportunity, surfers had to get their plans right, and Micah Sklut of SwellInfo.com emphasized the importance of keeping an eye on the forecast and conditions.

“Arthur was a really quick-moving system,” explained Sklut. “For coastal areas worried about damage, it’s probably one reason why North Carolina didn’t see that much damage. Here in Delaware, we received a fair amount of rain, but it kind of came and went really quickly. We saw a very quick shot of surf.”

After waking up to typical summer shore break, wave riders’ fortunes took a turn in the early afternoon, when conditions started to improve rapidly. By mid-afternoon, the lineup was stacked with some of the best surfers in the area — including in Ocean City, Md., where local rippers put on an aerial show for the cameras and the crowd.

The surf began to die down by dark, and by the next morning everything looked to be back to normal.

While summertime beachgoers may have been surprised to see waves of that caliber in the Atlantic, according to Sklut, the early-season hurricane was nothing out of the ordinary.

“We’ll very commonly get early storms,” he explained. “We’ll usually get one storm in June. The past couple of years, we’ve had early storms. A lot of times they’ll originate in the Gulf of Mexico. This time, it originated on the east side of Florida.”

Sklut went on to explain that warm waters and conducive atmosphere and environment are necessary for forming hurricanes, which is why they often originate in the Gulf or off the Florida coast.

“When you have those, the storm can develop any time,” he went on. “This time of year, if they are going to develop, they are going to develop in the Gulf of Mexico or Florida, where the water is really warm.”

Despite the early score for local surfers, Sklut said that El Niño may cause a lower than average number of hurricanes this year.

“That generally creates less hurricanes off the coast of Africa, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have storms like we did last week,” he explained. “Really, it comes down to that one big storm — is it going to hit us; is it going to stay off the coast and give us good waves? Sometimes we could have a lot of storms, but they could just be way off the coast and not impact us.”