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Riding Winter Waves

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Winter has always been prime-time for skating, skiing, snowboarding… and surfing? Yes, this frigid time of year actually produces the best waves in the Northeast, according to photographer Andreea Waters of Hastings-on-Hudson. “Nor’easters, hurricanes, and tropical storms have the best swell directions to hit the New York coast,” says Waters, who published a book of her NY-Metro surfing photography last year. The drastic difference in temperature between the North Pole and the Equator during the wintertime also plays a role. 

Winter waves can reach heights of eight feet and can stick around for as long as three days. A surfer for over 25 years, John S. Tomlin of White Plains can attest to this. “The farther offshore the storm is, the better the waves,” he says. It all depends on the strength, distance, and movement of the storm creating the waves. 

Alas, Westchesterites must leave their backyards to catch these gnarly rides, yet they’re still close to home. “The Hudson River and the Long Island Sound are too small to capture sufficient wind to create great waves,” Tomlin says. “Only large bodies of water, like the Atlantic Ocean, create these conditions.”

Nonetheless, Tomlin emphasizes, Westchester possesses an enthusiastic surfing community: “Whenever a local surfer sees a car with a surfboard on the roof, we almost always introduce ourselves.” Like many surfers, Tomlin, a commercial real estate attorney, is a weather geek and will fly out the door with his board in tow if he knows there are waves to ride. “One of my favorite things is driving from Westchester to Long Island in the early morning for a surf session, knowing that in a few short minutes, I will be in the ocean, catching waves.”

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