2022 was a good year in Fernandina surf. Since I’ve been recording (2018) only 2020 surpassed 2022 in the number of days the surf was head high or bigger. 2020 featured 51 head high days, 34 days with onshore wind and 17 days with a mix of onshore and offshore winds. 2022 had 49 days of head high or bigger surf: 22 days featuring predominantly onshore wind, 23 days with a mix of onshore and offshore wind, and 4 head high days where the wind was predominantly offshore. Taking into account that June and July were fairly consistent again this year the only knock against 2022 is that we were hard pressed to find a wave bigger than waist high for the whole month of August, which is typically one of our prime months for surf.
Notable observations and surprises from 2022
- Second consecutive summer of consistent surf. There were no flat days this summer if you were in the right place at the right tide. I even recorded 12 days of fun chest high surf in June and July. The kids have been scoring for summer vacation. In regard to summer camp there were many days big enough to be challenging for beginners.
- An August with no days bigger than waist high is definitely a surprise but it may have set us up for a September to remember. 3 of my top 5 days fell in September, each associated with a named storm.
- I don’t know if it was a lack of surf or personal water time in August but I didn’t notice a severe jellyfish outbreak this year like we’ve had the past several years.
- The December hard freeze is probably still fresh in everyone’s mind. This contributed to a 10 degree water temperature difference between New Years Eve 2021 and New Years Eve 2022. 12/31/21 – 65.5 degrees F, 12/31/22 – 55.5 degress F.
- Notable but not surprising, 3 of what I considered the best days of the year fell within September. September is a good time of year to be in a lot of places for surf but it’s the best time of year for the advanced surfer here in Fernandina. Also the month with the most days of offshore wind (January) also had the most flat days, be careful what you wish for.
Top 5 days of 2022 – in chronological order.
- 9/13 – One of my waves this day reminded me of a heavy California beach break, a set wave from a solid 15 second ESE swell courtesy of Hurricane Earl. This day featured a clean morning session and a clean evening session.
- 9/22 – This was the standout day from Hurricane Fiona. My wipeouts were as spectacular as my makes and surfing felt like a full contact sport. There was a mix of a solid 15 second swell and a solid 10 second swell both out of the ESE. This led to a lot of waves doubling. You had to pick the right ones.
- 9/30 – Erosion and damage from Hurricane Ian closed beaches across the state and we were joined by one of Florida’s finest in Corey Lopez and his family for what some might consider the day of the year. It was burly however, especially at daylight, and due to the proximity and size of the storm, at times there were 3 or more overlapping swell periods. Again it paid to be on the right waves. Corey’s wave selection and choice of line paddling into them made it look easy. The photos made the waves look better than they were. It was powerful, erratic, and exhilarating.
- 11/11 – Another great day of surf coinciding with significant beach erosion across the state thanks to Hurrican Nicole. It took some time to clean up this day and we were racing the tide a bit before it got too shallow but it was a bit easier to read the waves than Ian. Often the 9 – 12 second swell periods like we had with Nicole can hit our sandbars with a little better shape than the 15 second periods we had with Fiona and Ian.
- 12/22 – Overhead set waves in the morning and offshore winds all day. This day featured 9 second periods similar to Nicole. A heavy morning session gave way to a friendlier, playful evening session as the tide turned back in.
- 1/16 – A major South “suck-up” swell ahead of a front. Well overhead on 1/16, flat on 1/17. Bradley Dunham got the shot. There was one wave I’d like another shot at after witnessing the approach of Corey Lopez and his son during Hurricane Ian.
- 3/8 – There was a run of waves where we were all surfing around the leading edge of the dredge/beach renourishment project. This was one of the best days from that run with a nice 10 second swell running. These projects happen so frequently here that even with the wave log I get my years and seasons confused. We always cross our fingers that the decent sandbars they cover will come back with similar form.
- 9/6 – 9/10 – One thing that was so great for our students about this season was the consistency. Earl produced and produced… starting around 9/6 the waves were over chest high until 9/14. Around this time we also had a sandbar that worked for pretty much any tide. When the wind and power came together on 9/13 many of them were ready to take advantage.
1) Wave Heights
|Flat – Shin||| Knee – Waist||| Chest – Shoulder||| Head +|
2) Water Temperature
|Below 50 F||| Below 60 F||| Below 70 F||| Above 70 F||| Above 80 F|
3) Wind: Onshore vs. Offshore (Choppy vs. Clean)
|Onshore (All Day)||| Mixed||| Offshore (All Day)|
4) General Wind Wave Direction
|North||| South||| Neutral (Straight)|
5) Swell Period in Seconds
|< 8||| 8 – 11||| 12 +||| 17 +|