Club & Greek

Surf Club Keeps A Close Eye On Hurricane Joaquin

Hurricane Joaquin is tracking.  Rain, gale force gusts, and even flooding in some areas of New Jersey thus far.  Natives of Monmouth and Ocean County have been warned.  Could Joaquin be Sandy’s pissed off little brother?  While some are panicking, surfers are frothing.  New Jersey has seen more than two weeks of consistent swell and for our small state that is unheard of.  Swell means rideable waves, correct?  Not quite.  Out of the two week long swell period, I can count on one hand how many surf sessions were not brutalized by the strong northeast winds. Wind and waves, both must agree with each other.

To track hurricanes or any swell patterns for that matter, surfers must do research.  Goofing off, growing your hair and saying ‘gnarly’ too often doesn’t allow someone to hold the title of a surfer.  You have to do some research!  Surfers do it without realizing it on a day-to-day basis.  And with a storm like Joaquin, even more preparation is necessary.  So, I called in backup.

John Tiedemann knows NJ like the back of his hand.  He’s been surfing for 47 years, and some know him as the director of the Marine and Environmental Biology department at Monmouth. 

“Right now, we’re starting to get the front edge [of the storm] because the last report I saw had it moving away from the Bahamas and Florida and starting to track up the coast,” said Tiedemann.

Professor Tiedemann validated local surfers and their high levels of stoke.

“[Our hurricane season] has been very quiet up until this storm, we had a flat summer because there’s more swell energy on the Pacific coast and we got this dry low energy situation on the east coast and that’s a result of an El Niño year.”
El Nino. East coast surfers cringe at the very thought of it.

“Technically to describe El Nino, it’s a change in the wind patterns on the west coast and one of the things that happens there is, you get a shift in swell patterns and a shift in the upwelling,” said Tiedemann.

Professor Tiedemann continued to explain that, “basically, [the west coast] gets a wet active year and we get a dry flat year.”

California surfers love it, we hate it, but finally we have our Joaquin! In addition to his knowledge about tracking the storm, Professor Tiedemann spends a bulk of his time planning for what the storm may bring to NJ

“We have a program at the Urban Coast Institute, with flood elevation predictions. So, we have tide gauges and water level gauges and those are designed to give an early warning to the local communities,” said Tiedemann.

Much of the work that Professor Tiedemann and his colleagues do is crucial for residents of NJ to know.

“Our water gauging goes into a mathematical model that then creates a map that says how high the Shrewsbury River is likely to go, and we combine that with post-Sandy statistics. So, instead of a 12 hour notice, we could give a two day notice,” said Professor Tiedemann.

It’s still not over. Hurricane Joaquin is looking tame for now, however, locals still remember what a sizeable hurricane can do to the coastline.

Sophomore student-surfer, Paul Kelly recalled his story from Hurricane Sandy.

“For Hurricane Sandy, I live in Lavallette, they evacuated the whole island but my family and I felt more comfortable staying at my house knowing what the damage was gonna be like. Exactly ten days I stayed after the hurricane hit and safe to say it was the craziest week of my life,” said Kelly.

Kelly continued to say, “We had to break into our friends houses to get food, we saw all the destruction, and even saw the roller coaster fall in.”

Sandy was worst case. The negative effects she had on NJ were obvious. However, data from Sandy is currently helping people like Professor Tiedemann to warn us now. Mother Nature has a plan, and we are but pawns inside it all.

“I’m just hoping that it doesn’t really affect the shoreline too much, I mean hurricanes we’re always excited because there’s gonna be waves. Hopefully the MU surf boys can get in the water and stack some footage for this Red Bull competition coming up,” said Kelly.
Many students may not know it, but the MU Surf Club has been entered into a Red Bull surf video contest.

Monmouth surfers and videographers are putting in hard work to win against seven other schools nation wide.

So that is the plan. Crossed fingers, Joaquin gives us waves, offshore winds and a stage for the MU Surf Club to showcase what it is that we do.
Keep an eye on the weather channel, stay safe and stay tuned for more information about the Monmouth Surf Club’s salty endeavors.