Big swell generated by unusual 'superstorm' over the Pacific - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Big swell generated by unusual 'superstorm' over the Pacific

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A High Surf Warning has been issued, as a powerful storm brings us a new west-northwest swell starting Thursday night.

Big waves in the winter are nothing new, but experts say the weather system that is creating this upcoming swell is something they haven't seen for years.

"It came off the Asian coast and formed very rapidly off the coast of Japan, and then just exploded," said Robert Ballard of the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Robert Ballard calls it an extratropical 'superstorm,' traveling at that impressive intensity for the past 3 days, and now will be losing steam but generating a huge swell.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see heights in excess of 30 feet in some areas," Ballard said.

It's fueled by a warm upper atmosphere colliding with lower level cold air (over a tight temperature gradient) which basically is creating a robust cyclone.

And the central pressure of this system "bombed out," as the atmospheric scientist would say, at a extremely low....932 millibars.

"This is, I believe, the lowest pressure I have ever seen in the North Pacific that I have ever seen since 2000," Ballard said.

Ballard said, in many ways it has characteristics like Hurricane Sandy, being a huge wind maker that covers a large real estate of the Pacific.

"In fact, more intense than Hurricane Sandy when it made landfall," Ballard said. "The central pressure was several millibars lower, so what that means is that you have a very large area of strong winds that are generated over the Pacific. Those strong winds, as a lot of our surfers know here, will generate waves our north and west facing shores."

But this wind generator will bring inconsistent sets that may surprise the inexperienced.

"What is unusual about this swell is that it is very long period, and what that means, is you have very fast moving forerunners that are gonna make it to the islands well ahead of the main swell energy," Ballard said. "And what that means, is the heights will be inconsistent at first, it could look flat for awhile and then you could get a sudden surge of wave energy."

Buoys already are showing signs of the building swell, and it will likely stick around through the weekend.

So be sure to look out for warnings before heading to the beach and stay tune to your Severe Weather Station.

To connect with Meteorologist Jennifer Robbins or to present her a weather or surf question... You can check out Jen's Page Facebook or send her an email at

 Make sure to also share your surf pics with us, of course, at a safe distance.

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