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Winter Roars Back to Life with Potential Swell of the Season Forecasted for Thanksgiving Weekend

Live Footage of Waimea Bay from Surfline

Live Footage of Waimea Bay from 


Waimea Bay broke today. It wasn’t huge, and it wasn’t pretty—marred by stormy rain, short-period swell, and northeast wind—but it had its moments, enough to remind us that winter season is here, even if it’s been flat for the past two weeks.

But today was only the warmup—it barely registered on the radar. The main event is coming later this week. And, as seems to happen more often than not, it’s hitting on Thanksgiving.

Most of Thursday is going to be in that fun, four- to eight-foot range, but at around 3:00 pm—right when everyone starts stuffing themselves with turkey—we are going to see a distinct uptick in swell height, and by dark Waimea buoy will likely be reading 12 feet at 20 seconds. For those who don’t speak buoy, that translates as huge!

The swell will peak overnight, likely with some sets hitting the 25-foot range (Hawaiian scale!). Friday morning will still be massive, with current forecasts calling for 14 feet at 17 seconds—and some forecasters suggesting that the swell is going to overperform. While chatting with a couple North Shore legends on the beach at Waimea, one of them stated that he’s pretty confident it will be 18- to 20-foot on Friday, with possibly bigger sets—and if the swell weren’t peaking overnight, it would be a borderline Eddie swell.

Big Swell in Waimea Bay by Kevin Smith

Waimea Bay Big Winter Surf - Photo credits to Kevin Smith


For all of the normal people out there who aren’t certified hellmen and simply enjoy normal-sized waves, there’s good news on either side of Friday’s swell. The North Shore should be anywhere from double to triple overhead all week (albeit from a pretty weird, straight north direction), and the swell train is staying active after the big swell blows itself out on Thanksgiving weekend. After a few days of “medium-sized” surf (North Shore medium, at least, which means double-overhead+), there’s another solid to potentially XL swell forecasted for early December. And after that, it looks like the surf will stay in the head-high+ range as far out as we can see.

In other words, after one of the worst Novembers in recent memory, winter is kicking back into gear—and this time, it looks like it might stick.