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.”
On the morning of Saturday, November 3rd, I wake up at 7:30 a.m. to a dark room. The nightlight I plugged into the wall, a subtle alert to the presence of electricity, is still dim. I grudgingly push two down comforters aside and climb out of bed, wearing the latest in pajama couture: Long socks, shorts, sweats, and a hoodie layered beneath a ski sweater. It’s our sixth day without electricity and it’s 4 degrees in my house. But at least I have a house. I keep reminding myself. So many of my friends lost everything. But at least they are safe.
This headspace is surreal. I remember watching Katrina and her aftermath on the television, and being unable to process what I was seeing. Too much destruction and sorrow. Human kindness–as well as malevolence.
The night before, I sat in my friend’s living room, absorbing borrowed warmth, and watching the nationally televised Sandy benefit concert, broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City, where half of Manhattan still didn’t have power. Another friend who made the journey back through the Lincoln Tunnel said returning to the City was the strangest thing she’s ever experienced. It’s hard to fathom New York standing still.
My parents have a bitey dog and a flair for dramatics. Even if this storm proves to be over-hyped, it’s possible that riding it out with those three will result in bodily harm. Psychological injury is pretty much a given. This is why I have procured a personal wine reserve.
And anyway, Sandy looks unlikely to be a bust, as the projected point of landfall is, give or take three miles, my house. Continue reading
Thursday, August 25th, 2011. 19:39
The Rain Before THE Rain
The air might smell like the copious raindrops that fill it, or like salt marsh, but my nose is stuffy. I guess that’s what I get for surfing in hypothermia-inducing, upwelled waters this afternoon. I paddled out amid the hordes at Manasquan, even though the cloud formations indicated impending doom and the water was painfully cold, because the waves actually had faces. Faces on which I could make use of the very minor trickage I have in my arsenal. The wind was blowing hard out of the south, but the jetty blocked it and surprisingly smooth peaks remained. Anyway, after about 30 seconds, my core ceased circulation to my extremities and now I can’t smell anything.
Thunder rumbles continuously, and the dense clouds are occasionally illuminated by dull, bluish flashes.
“Chance of rain: 90%,” The Weather Channel tells me. Every ten minutes. The local forecast breaks up the round-the-clock coverage of Hurricane Irene, which they’re saying could be a 100-year event–especially in terms of flooding. In terms of other things, well, the mayor just called and said a voluntary evacuation is in effect for the barrier island. I received a Facebook message from the Garden State Grudge Match Trials: “No comp due to evacs! Go surf, have fun, & be safe!”
We’re supposed to prepare for a direct hit: flash flooding and storm surge and high, high winds.
“A hurricane watch and a flood watch have been issued for our area.”
Irene is on-track to clobber New York City. The last time the city saw a hurricane was more than a hundred years ago. If I were still living in the city, I’d evac for sure. Fuck those sheets of glass falling from the sky.
Magic Seaweed is saying we’ll get a 15.5-foot swell on Sunday. Will anyone be there to see it?