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Knocking On Irma’s Front Door

Overhead and offshore as mid- to north-Atlantic prepares for developing tropical storm

Old-fashioned names. Well-fashioned conditions. As Hurricane Gert spun away from the New England seaboard a few weeks ago, it supplied the northern East Coast with solid swell, creating sandbars that some compared to those of Hurricane Irene in 2011. A new pulse of low-period swell appeared through the Outer Banks and into Long Island late this week, and while surfers enjoyed breathless winds and plus-sized sets up the coast, the best is likely still to come in the form of Hurricane Irma, which just jumped to a Category-3 designation as her path toward the Caribbean next week (though the models are early) might hint at a coming heyday for the East.

“I started at dawn in New York on Wednesday, then timed both the traffic, tides, and winds for our arrival in New England for an afternoon marathon session,” says photographer Shawn Casey. “The whole send was a gamble, leaving solid size at home in New Jersey and a potential cleanup, but sometimes out here, and with the nature of these storms, you have to make the call last minute—like, midnight last-minute. Ended up back in New Jersey on Thursday for absolutely pristine bowls to let loose on.”

“Man, it was really good on Wednesday. It seemed like the angle and the sandbars were made for each other,” adds photographer Seth de Roulet. “I hooked up with Will Skudin, who had his eye on this super slabbing sandbar. The sweep was so bad, it made it nearly impossible to line up. I must have seen 10 waves that reminded me of a mini Skeleton Bay.”

After feasting on fun swell the last two days, local NE fixtures will be hungry for more as they eye the charts for Irma’s arrival.

“Warm water, perfect wind, and well-overhead swell,” says photographer Mike Nelson. “It was one of those East Coast days you dream about.”