Which Beach Is The Best On The East Coast

December on the East Coast. Freezing air, plummeting water temps, and nor’easters delivering blinding snow and solid surf, right? Sometimes. But with La Nina settling in for winter again, you’ll want to temper your expectations — especially if you’re expecting big surf and snowy lineups.

Jump to Your Best Bets:

Florida | Southeast | Virginia-Outer Banks | Mid Atlantic-Long Island | New England | Florida Gulf | Puerto Rico

Don’t expect this December to be like last December, which was very cold and very pumping in New York [pictured]. La Nina typically delivers warmer weather and more modest surf. Photo: Mike Nelson

Since our records began in 1980, La Nina has, more often than not, led to below-average surf for this month. The unexpectedly active December 2020 was an outlier, and we won’t likely see a repeat of that in 2021. The first half of this month is looking slow, and any swells of note will probably come later in the month, or even around the holidays.

La Nina pushes the storm track to the north, resulting in fewer southern-track storms coming out of the Gulf of Mexico or moving off the Southeast U.S. and a warmer, drier month for most of the East Coast too. So, don’t expect many blizzards. Those more southerly storms are better-suited to deliver widespread solid surf, especially when they develop into nor’easters. We saw a handful of these storms pop up last month, but as we transition into winter, that expected La Nina pattern is setting up storms that track over and off the Northeast U.S. and Canada. These more northerly storms can deliver a quick shot of windswell, but it’s often short-lived with dicey or fading conditions as the winds swing around behind the storm.

Watch Live: New York | Rhode Island | New Jersey | Outer Banks | Florida | Rincon

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You’ll want to take advantage of any decent surf that does pop up, as there are no promises it will get this good until late month, if at all. Lucas Rogers, Outer Banks. December 2020. Photo: Cody Hammer

We’re not just in a La Nina, either; we’re in back-to-back La Ninas, known as a “double-dip,” which allows us to finely filter through the past 41 years of data for similar, double-dip Decembers. Though some key dates showed up early month, the medium and long-range forecasts are clear: it’s going to be pretty small and slow overall for the next few weeks. Strong high pressure is in control of the Atlantic as a shorter-term climate driver (NAO) takes over the basin, then mid-month, another climate driver (MJO) is forecast to become unfavorable for East Coast storms.

Swell Story: Winter Waves Are Waiting in Nova Scotia

In general terms, this means occasional rounds of windswell in the Northeast, small trade swell for the Southeast and Florida, and steady, fun-sized trade swell in the Caribbean with the occasional northerly pulse. If you want big surf, head to the other side of the Atlantic — Ireland, Portugal, Morocco, etc. — where the meat of the swells is headed these next couple of weeks.

Nevertheless, check out the key dates below for your region. The shorter-term climate signals should become more favorable as we move toward the second half of the month and into the holidays, opening up the chances for better storms and swells to develop. After mid-month, if a swell pops up on the models around your key dates, you can have a bit more confidence that it’ll actually materialize.

The Specifics 

Lead Forecaster Mike Watson is our number-crunching surf bookie who picks through more than 40 years of surf data to give you Best Bets, which are days with higher odds of delivering the best surf. Bet on the dates below for your region.

Florida

  • Expect below-average surf heights
  • Take advantage of any decent surf, down days expected
  • Smaller surf early month, look to middle or late month
  • Key dates: 16th-19th, 25th-30th

Forecast: North-Central Florida |

South Florida

Southeast

  • Expect below-average surf heights
  • Take advantage of any surf with decent conditions
  • More down days than fun days expected
  • Slow early month, look to middle or late month
  • Key dates: 13th-19th, 26th-28th

Forecast: Crystal Coast | Wrightsville | South Carolina

Cam rewinds from December 2020, an outlier month of good surf during an otherwise drab La Nina winter.

Virginia Beach-Outer Banks

  • Expect below-average surf heights
  • Take advantage of any surf with decent winds/conditions
  • More small days than good days expected
  • Slow early month, look to middle or late month
  • Key dates, Hatteras: 5th-6th, 8th, 15th-20th, 26th-27th
  • Key dates, Northern OBX-VB: 5th-6th, 8th, 15th-17th, 20-21st, 26th

Forecast: Virginia Beach | Outer Banks | Hatteras Island

Maryland-New Jersey-Long Island-Rhode Island

  • Expect below-average surf heights
  • Surf rises and falls quickly around fronts
  • Mostly modest swells and smaller surf for floatier boards
  • Key dates, MD-NJ: 6th-7th, 13th-17th, 20th-21st, 26th
  • Key dates, NY-RI: 6th-7th, 14th-15th, 20th-21st, 24th-25th, 27th

Forecast:

NJ-MD-DE | NY | Rhode Island

Northern New England

  • Expect below-average surf heights
  • Surf rises and falls quickly around fronts
  • Mostly modest swells and smaller surf for floatier boards
  • Key dates, MA: 3rd, 6th-7th, 11th-15th, 19th-21st, 25th, 27th
  • Key dates, ME: 6th-7th, 12th-16th, 18th-21st, 28th

Forecast: Cape Cod |

New England | New Hampshire | Maine

XL swells in the Caribbean will be few and far between or nonexistent this month, but we can expect intermittent pulses of overhead northerly swell. Nico Epps. Photo: Babby Quinones

Gulf of Mexico

  • Expect average or below-average surf heights
  • Slow going for the Gulf with northward storm track
  • Panhandle sees windswell from Atlantic high pressure extending over eastern Gulf
  • West Florida occasionally sees small windswell behind cold fronts
  • Key dates, PH: 8th-12th, 21st-22nd, 24th-26th, 28th-29th
  • Key dates, WFL: 15th, 18th-20th, 26th-29th

Forecast: West Florida | Panhandle

Puerto Rico

  • Expect average surf heights
  • Mostly approachable surf, unlikely to see XL surf
  • Steady runs of short to mid-period NE/ENE trade swell
  • Occasional pulses of short to mid-period NNW swell, longer-period N/NNE swells
  • Key dates: 4th-8th, 13th, 15th-20th, 22nd-23rd, 28th-29th

Forecast: North PR | Rincon

Source : https://www.surfline.com/surf-news/december-best-bets-east-coast-caribbean-surf-la-nina-138709/138709

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