Forecaster Blog: Zonal Storm-Track Favours Fiji This Week

4 Oct 2016 0

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | FORECASTER BLOG

Issued Tuesday, October 4, 2016

There are days when the surf is tiny or flat along Australia’s East Coast, yet it’s possible to see large swell out to sea, travelling parallel and away from coast – seemingly so close, yet too far offshore to generate any substantial surf. These are of course deepwater SW swells, spawned by consistent frontal activity sweeping over Tasmania and Bass Strait and out across the southern Tasman Sea.

By and large, these sources are the bread and butter for NSW coast surfers; consistently generating refracted S swells that dominate our swell-regime year-round. However, we’re currently witnessing an extremely zonal version of this pattern, whereby a heightened period of frontal activity moves west to east across our swell window with little to no meridional (south to north) extension through the Tasman Sea.

SEE ALSO: 15 Reasons Why Parko Lives On The Gold Coast

Here's one way to beat the flat spell across the East Coast: Book a flight to Fiji this weekend. Photo: Beau Pilgrim.

Here's one way to beat the flat spell across the East Coast: Book a flight to Fiji this weekend. Photo: Beau Pilgrim.

Over the next few days as a series of vigorous, closely spaced fronts move clear of Tasmania on an uninterrupted eastward track bound for New Zealand’s west coast. Although the acute westerly orientation of the associated surface winds are set to generate impressive peaks in deepwater wave-height of 20 to 35 feet over the Southern Tasman Sea on Thursday, only a small fraction of this energy will radiate out along the NSW coast.

If you’re wondering where all that swell is going, you don’t have to look much further than New Zealand and Fiji. However, it’s the latter destination that really benefits above all others. Whereas NZ’s west coast is situated in the direct path of the aforementioned fronts (and therefore compromised by strong onshore winds), Fiji’s tropical location places it well north of the storm-track; placing it in the direct path of large SSW groundswells emanating from these sources, albeit sans onshore winds.

FOLLOW THIS SWELL ON THE WAVE TRACKER

Latest Wave Tracker projections indicate deepwater WSW will peak in the 35ft range over the far southern Tasman Sea on Thursday.

Latest Wave Tracker projections indicate deepwater WSW will peak in the 35ft range over the far southern Tasman Sea on Thursday.

This Wavetracker frame displays peak wave period, showing the leading edge of the SSW groundswell making landfall at peak intervals of 18 to 20 seconds early on Sunday morning.

This Wavetracker frame displays peak wave period, showing the leading edge of the SSW groundswell making landfall at peak intervals of 18 to 20 seconds early on Sunday morning.

Groundswell emanating from Thursday’s peak in swell production will take several days to cover the distance north to Fiji. A first, mid-sized pulse arriving on Saturday precedes the bulk of energy peaking on Sunday. For deepwater reefs like Cloudbreak, this is shaping up as an 8 to 12ft plus day under light offshore to variable winds – not to mention the odd shower and thunderstorm. The tail end of Sunday’s pulse will ease to more accessible, but a still large size on Monday. Going on latest model runs, this will be backed up by a second round of large to extra-large SSW groundswell on Tuesday; at this stage coming in a foot or two below Sunday’s episode.


Latest virtual buoy data shows a big weekend of surf looming for Fiji.

Latest virtual buoy data shows a big weekend of surf looming for Fiji.

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