Forecaster Blog: Victoria Primed to Pump

22 Mar 2017 7

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

COASTALWATCH | FORECASTER BLOG

Issued by Ben Macartney, 22 March 2017

https://readymag.com/733060

With uncanny similarity to the lead-up to the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks, Mother Nature is preparing to put on a show in the fortnight prior to the start of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach. There’s now little doubt that the entire Surf Coast is going to pump under the brunt of two, back to back pulses of large WSW and SW groundswell over the course of next week – and there are early indications that both pulses will be groomed by favourable WNW winds.

FOLLOW THE EVOLUTION OF THE SWELL ON THE WAVE TRACKER

This activity kicks off with the evolution of a deep mid-latitude low south of Indonesia this weekend – and it clearly marks the onset of a highly active phase in WSW swell for Victoria over the course of next week. The storm is forecast to steadily deepen as it tracks below Java and Western Australia on Saturday and Sunday; setting up a broad, 30 to 45kt SW fetch inside Victoria’s swell window as it goes. Latest GFS runs indicate the low will continue to support WSW gales as it moves south-eastward below the Bight; thereby bringing the fetch within much closer range of western Bass Strait by Monday afternoon.

The low is projected to drop poleward on Tuesday as it runs up against a downstream high anchored east of NZ. At the same time, a second, larger Southern Ocean low is forecast to extend a far more expansive WSW fetch into our swell window, elongating out below the mainland to extend the length of the entire continent early next week. 

How's this for a fetch? Latest ACCESS model runs pick up a belt of WSW gales extending the entire length of the mainland early next week. Source: BOM.

How's this for a fetch? Latest ACCESS model runs pick up a belt of WSW gales extending the entire length of the mainland early next week. Source: BOM.

This anteceding storm system is forecast to support slightly stronger wind-speeds of 35 to 45 knots – and this fetch will piggy back on the pre-existing sea-state generated by the first low to drive deepwater seas and swell to peaks of 30 to 40ft below WA on Monday and Tuesday. The upshot is scope for two large, back to back pulses of WSW groundswell for Victoria over the course of next week; the first arriving on Tuesday, followed by the second, slightly larger pulse peaking on Thursday or Friday.

At this early stage, both episodes loom as heavy, 8 to 10ft storm-swells for exposed Victorian beaches. This will invariably see the focus fixed on the Surf Coast as the swell wraps in at still large, but far more manageable levels. If current model runs prove accurate, the downstream high east of New Zealand and subsequent deflection of the storms away to the southeast as the approach Victorian longitudes will be the catalyst for epic conditions around Torquay; resulting in favourable WNW winds for most of the week.

The stronger westerly bias inherent in the first pulse is more likely to wash off a fair component of energy by the time it wraps; speculatively limiting set waves to 4 to 6ft plus across the premier Torquay breaks on Tuesday. The second pulse, however, holds stronger potential for larger 6 to 8ft sets on Thursday/ Friday. Given the lead-time on these developments, there’s still plenty of scope for revisions to specifics on surf-height and arrival times, so stay tuned for updates later in the week.

This Wave Tracker image depicts significant wave height, depicting the second sea-state under development as the first pulse arrives across Victoria on Tuesday.

This Wave Tracker image depicts significant wave height, depicting the second sea-state under development as the first pulse arrives across Victoria on Tuesday.

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