There was certainly nothing perfect about this storm. From the flooding to the power outages, the big surf produced by Hurricane Irene came at the cost of millions of dollars of destruction, even lost lives.
At the very start, this storm showed promise. Back on Aug. 20, she was merely a tropical storm with the potential to deliver the East Coast from an uneventful summer -- well, uneventful as far as solid swell goes. The tropics have been active, in that there have been 10 named Atlantic storms before the end of August, but none of them have offered much more than a few tiny pulses, lapping against our expectations. Then Irene blew up to a Cat 3 with 120 mph winds and developed a will to make U.S. landfall.
Ideal storms for surfing stay out to sea. They may take a bend toward the East Coast, and maybe flirt with the Outer Banks, but eventually they make that run out to the North Atlantic. They certainly don't plow into the East Coast, flood your basement, jump back in the drink and then go drenching their way to Albany.
Hurricane Irene really intensified in the Bahamas, curving north with Coastal Carolina in its crosshairs. She made landfall at Cape Lookout, N.C., with winds of 85 mph. She went back out to sea over the Virginia border, where the East Coast Surfing Championships had to be cut short, right after the completion of the Vans Pro.
From there, it was a tightrope walk along the Delmarva Coast before a second landfall at Little Egg Harbor, N.J., the first hurricane in more than 100 years to visit the Jersey Shore. Just missing NYC (but not enough that the upcoming Quiksilver Pro New York infrastructure had to come down) she went inland into New England, bringing massive flooding.
This storm claimed the life of more than 20 people, sadly including 55-year-old surfers Frederick Fernandez of Florida and James Palmer of New Jersey. A large gash on Fernandez's head indicated that he went head-first into the bottom.
Another surfer was held in Massachusetts State Police Barracks after refusing to leave the water at Nantasket Beach in Hull. He was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge.
Between the overflowing creeks and over-amping tweets, there were some sessions to be had. From the Caribbean to Nova Scotia, waves (often short-lived and rarely perfect) broke for the glory of those willing to brave Irene.