Big Wave Alert: Monster Swells Brewing

Paula Lehman

It's about to go off in West Oz and Indonesia. Surfline, the official forecaster for the World Surf League, is predicting those regions will see a significant surf event moving through the weekend and early next week, though not as strong as the Indian Ocean swell from late June.

Tracking a large, intense storm earlier this week over the South Central Indian Ocean, Surfline is reporting the following:

Indo Swell Wave heights from 2 p.m. Aug 26, local Bali time. (Provided by Surfline) - WSL

The storm was recently analyzed at 946mb by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and continues to interact with strong (1030-1033mb) high pressure located just south of Madagascar. This has set up a large fetch of gale and storm force winds, with satellite confirmed winds in excess of 55-60kts observed.

Spots like The Right and Cow Bombie off the coast of Western Australia lit up in June when a slightly larger storm generated massive waves. The ensuing super session was the source of numerous submissions for this season's Big Wave Awards including this Billabong Ride of the Year entry from Felicity "Flick" Palmateer (AUS):

Felicity "Flick" Palmateer makes some Aussie history with her huge right at Cow Bombie, Western Australia. Video by Nimai Strickland/

A separate significant swell event is headed for Tahiti, with a smaller version of this swell spreading across the Pacific and impacting Central America and Mainland Mexico through the Labor Day weekend.

The Surfline forecast team is monitoring active, complex storm activity SE of New Zealand this afternoon [Aug. 27]. This will be followed up by another intense, fast moving fetch of 40-60kt winds... More strong storm activity is expected in a similar area early next week as well. This will generate plenty of gale force and higher winds aimed at Tahiti and beyond.

Tahiti Swell Large Purple Blob in South Pacific, along with smaller blobs associated with the very active tropics in both the Central Pacific (Kilo, Ignacio, Jimena) and Atlantic (Erika). (Provided by Surfline) - WSL

Tahiti's famous reefbreak, Teahupo'o, has had a big season already. A July 22 strike mission prompted a deluge of Big Wave Award submissions. It also saw Wipeout of the Year submissions: While plenty of surfers found glory, others paid a high price of admission in cringe-worthy tumbles.

Italian Niccolo Porcella did a little bit of both but lived to tell the tale, telling Surfer magazine, "I smacked the water really hard but thought I had penetrated and was going to pop out the back. I took a stroke toward the surface, thinking. 'This is too good to be true,' then realized one hand was surrounded by water and the other surrounded by air. At this point, I realized I was getting sucked over. The beating that followed was the most violent thing I have ever felt in my life."

Another angle of Niccolo Porcella's big wipeout in Tahiti. Video by Alex Orlov/The Go Big Project

When asked how he felt afterward, Porcella said, "At that moment, I had never felt more alive and happier in my life. I was more fired up than before so we waited 30 minutes until heading back out to catch another bomb, then continued to tow the rest of the day. I randomly woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and began to cry, realizing the day I just had." (Read Surfer's full interview here.)

Surfline will be tracking the swell and providing daily updates. Get the latest with individual forecasts for Western Australia, Bali, Tahiti and Central America on