DISCUSSION: As we move well into the fall season, the winter season will undoubtedly soon be upon us. With winter arriving shortly we can also think about the weather that is expected to impact the Hawaiian Islands as one of the locations within the United States that can expect to receive mild weather. Winter typically brings the rainy season to the Islands, but it can also be one of the great locations to enjoy the large swells on the north shores of the island chain. Some of the best surf competitions are seen between November and February especially at the famed Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, Peahi and Jaws.
The waves in these locations are primarily a product of prevailing winds, fetch and various geographic features beneath the oceans surface. Since the Pacific Ocean provides a large fetch for waves, height can then increase before reaching the island chain. Much of this height will also be affected by whether or not waves are breaking on underwater geologic features and if prevailing winds are favorable, generally North/Northwest for the big wave locations.
With the transition into a La Niña, we should expect some changes compared to the previous seasons El Niño conditions. Winter is expected to bring the wet seasons but with a weak La Niña we may see subtle impacts hit the state. With a weak La Niña, Hawaii is expected to see average precipitation this winter, whereas the Southern US is slated to experience a drought.
National Weather Service forecasters are not expecting this event to sustain past March. With unprecedented wave heights reached during winter 2015/2016, notable events such as The Eddie ran after a nearly 9 year hiatus, coming back to a feverish crowd with 30+ foot surf. The La Niña is not expected to contribute to increased heights but may be another notable season to surf Hawaii's North Shores.
For local surf observations in the Hawaiian Islands visit NOAA!
~Meteorologist Jessica Olsen