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Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: August 23, 7:23 PM ET
Cape Verde season patience


Dave Speir
Dave Speir of Florida is waiting for the switch to go 'on' for more of this.

"The strongest of all warriors are these two -- time and patience."

That comes from Leo Tolstoy. Any chance you read a little 1,440-pager he wrote in 1898 called "War and Peace" this summer? If you were on the East Coast, you certainly had time.

You could have written your own novel or put an addition on your house or figured out who in the Republican party thinks it's a good idea for Paul Ryan to announce that he listens to Rage Against the Machine. Because you haven't been surfing much.

In all reality, most of us from Miami to Maine don't really have too much extra time in the summer. You're making money during the short season. You're too busy slinging mojitos or lobster rolls -- cleaning pools, selling sunscreen and taking folks from the other side of I-95 for stand-up paddle lessons for much heavy reading. Who needs to be taught how to do that anyway? But you haven't been doing five-hour sessions, that's for sure.

The start of summer wasn't bad. Late spring had Tropical Storms Alberto and Beryl, which delivered some odd surf for that time of year. June had bowls and July offered some loggable lines. But the last few weeks have been pretty uneventful. This morning we saw our ninth named storm of 2012, but the last half dozen systems haven't been wavemakers aside from some sloppy stuff off Mexico and Europe. Patience is getting little thin.

The system we're looking at today is Tropical Storm Isaac, a little spinner predicted to be a hurricane by tomorrow. Beyond that, his track is a little uncertain, but at some point Florida is likely going to get smacked.

T.S. Isaac
This is what the tropical conga line looks like on Wednesday.

"The main reason we're seeing tropical activity pick up is because we're entering the part of the season where African waves are stronger and more likely to develop into storms or hurricanes. The peak in the Atlantic tends to be in September for these kinds of storms. Irene of 2011 formed from a classic African easterly wave, for example," Angela Fritz of Wunderground.com said on Tuesday evening, "Isaac has formed and intensified despite the area of dry air surrounding the storm. Dry air over the Atlantic has been keeping cyclone development at bay so far this season, but now that we're seeing stronger waves come off the coast of Africa, it's more likely they will be able to intensify despite the dry environment. The dry air won't play a role in Isaac's track, but it could cap its maximum intensity."

Hurricanes can be the most moody of mistresses. It's true that they do deliver up rare groundswell from the East Coast, and they are responsible for some of our only barrels during the warmer months. But just as often (or more often) they fall apart, track out of swell windows, make untimely landfalls or deliver nothing but walled-out junk. But if you've been skunked 15 times in a row, or even 15 years in a row, ears still perk up when eyewalls start forming off the equator.

Behind Isaac is another storm pushing across the Atlantic simply called Tropical Depression Ten at this point. According to Wunderground, while Isaac has had to fight dry air, T.D. Ten (potentially T.S. Joyce?) will be cruising through atmosphere that has already been moistened by Isaac. Basically, big brother paved the way for her to become a more powerful storm. Early models show her staying out to sea which would mean far less headaches on the East Coast and possible swell, if she's strong enough.

Nils Schweizer
Nils Schweizer is eyeballing these next storms and making plans.

New Smyrna's Nils Schweizer has been in Mexico, South Africa, and Jamaica this summer, but he's heard that Florida has been pretty small.

"Everybody here is talking about finally seeing a little tropical action and making plans for where they're heading for these storms," he reported from the East Coast Surfing Championships in Virginia Beach, where he advanced through his early heat yesterday.

"I think I'm going back to Florida for Isaac. We have a spot that could get good at home or the Gulf might be fun. For that next one I might head up to the Outer Banks. You just have to chase 'em down."

This is all pretty good news for the wave-starved, especially since we are entering an El Nino phase which has a history of shearing systems apart. The August activity is a good sign, considering September 10 is the height of hurricane season, climatologically speaking. Be the patient warrior.