Tag Archives: right coast

The Science Behind The Sand Behind Sandy: The Garden State’s Run of All-time Waves

Between “Superstorm” Sandy and New Year’s, the East Coast experienced a run of swell that will probably become Tri-state lore. Yes, the window of opportunity was unusually lengthy. Yes, the Mayan calendar was involved. But the main reason why we’ll be talking about Dirty Jerz’s “Doomsday swell” and its siblings for years to come is that when they hit the ravaged coastline, they turned into immaculate, occasionally monstrous waves. Waves for days, you might even say. The likes of which haven’t been seen around here in, well, possibly ever. Some may call it divine justice, but it’s more like environmental recompense: It turns out that there’s scientific evidence that Sandy is actually behind the Right Coast’s firing good fortune.

“That swell before Christmas (the “Doomsday swell”), I think that might have been the best I’ve ever seen Bay Head [New Jersey],” says Billabong rider (and local legend) Sam Hammer. “There was like a four-hour period there where I’d never seen it consistently that size with the shape it had. And it wasn’t getting smaller. That just… doesn’t happen,” he laughs. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it look like that.”

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Central Jersey 09.16.12 . #iPhoneography

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Maine. ly. And Fall Approacheth.

I could feel the thunder rumbling in the tires of my car. It was raining so hard that everyone was pulled to the side of the Parkway, which was, incidentally, flooded. I was still in New Jersey: 8 hours to go.

The weather turned 8 hours into 10, and then continued battering us, even after we reached Maine. Luckily, Maine offers lots of great outlet shopping and waffle cones of Ben & Jerry’s. (Two scoops: Chocolate Therapy and Coconut Seven Layer Bar.) Maine also happens to be home to many scenic, rushing rivers and precarious lookouts. (These are still there in the rain. And less crowded, though probably more dangerous.) When it’s not raining, evenings in Maine bring thousands of stars, and for my family, Scrabble tournaments. We supplement our wits with Shipyard and Smuttynose and Magic Hat and Sea Dog. On day four, the sun decided to join us for our trip on the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington. Peaking at 6,288 feet, which isn’t even that high, Mt. Washington is infamous for its extremely fickle and hazardous weather. Partly due to my parents’ impeccable meterological judgment and partly due to sheer luck, it was brilliantly sunny and cloudless at the top.

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Evolution in Dirty Jerz

I observed from a not-entirely-safe distance as my fellow Garden Staters paddled through fitful bales of viscous, 40-something-degree sea water.

Seaside Park . 4.29.11

I thought this:

It seems unlikely that he’ll make that. Just look at that wave: Hurling the weight of its frigid lip over its deceptively curvaceous hips at Red Bull-vodka speed. Hollow and fast–but definitely not an easy score.

A mostly solid, greenish curtain formed within milliseconds and stretched for considerable moments.

He emerged.

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