Typhoons & Hurricanes (and Surfing)

Surfers are a crazy bunch.

They are constantly in search of the biggest swells and look for the type of waves that swimmers and sailors try their best to avoid.

Hurricane-generated waves are a great example of this, because when the high winds hit and everyone makes a beeline for safe havens, the craziest surfers grab their boards and head to the beach.

Surfers & Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tropical Cyclones

Both hurricanes and typhoons are tropical cyclones and the only difference between the two is the location.

The term “Hurricane” is used to describe tropical cyclones that occur in the North Atlantic, eastern North Pacific, and central North Pacific.

In the Northwest Pacific, the term “Typhoon” is used while in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific, they are tropical cyclones.

To be classified as any of these terms, it must reach a speed of at least 74 MPH. If it’s between 39 MPH and 73 MPH, it’s a tropical storm.

If you’re in the United States, it’s all about hurricanes and these often occur from June 1 to November 30, known as hurricane season.

Hurricane season is when 97% of all hurricanes occur, so if you’re chasing those big hurricane waves, this is when you’ll find them.

Hurricane Waves

The intense wind speed that occurs during major tropical storms and cyclones creates immense hurricane swells and extreme waves.

But these waves are not just bigger versions of the ones that you’re used to seeing off the shore of your favorite surfing destinations.

The waves are not constant, nor are they predictable.

The wind moves in a circular pattern and the waves propagate on much deeper water while breaking closer to the shore.

Hurricane Sandy, for instance, was a category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, and this is thought to be strong enough to produce a wave height of between 10 and 14 feet, which can be sustained for 12 to 15 seconds.

Of course, such wind speeds can also be dangerous and are definitely not for inexperienced surfers.

It’s important to understand the effect that these winds have on the waves and on you. Don’t take them lightly, make sure you’re prepared, and keep an eye on those surf forecasts!

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