Forecaster Blog: Tropical Cyclone Ola is Southbound

2 Feb 2015 5 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued 1.00pm Monday, 2 February 2015

  • Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Ola, (TC Ola) located roughly 500 nautical miles northeast of Fraser Island, tracks slowly south and weakens over the next few days; probably falling below tropical cyclone strength thresholds on Wednesday.
  • The cyclone’s southward track brings a strengthening SE fetch within close range of the southern Queensland coast, driving an extended run of mid to large SE swell for the region from Wednesday 4 to Friday 6 February.
  • A strong south-easterly bias in wind-vectors will ensure the TC Ola only has a minor impact on the southern half of the NSW coast.

The good times keep rolling across southern Queensland through early February, compliments of Tropical Cyclone Ola.

The good times keep rolling across southern Queensland through early February, compliments of Tropical Cyclone Ola.

The first Coral Sea tropical cyclone of the 2014/ 15 season spawned northwest of New Caledonia during the early hours of Saturday before gradually intensifying and moving slowly poleward throughout Sunday. TC Ola further deepened to a 995 hPa, Category 3 system by Monday morning – effectively marking the peak of the system’s lifecycle preceding a slow weakening trend setting in from Monday afternoon onwards. Weakening trend aside, TC Ola combines with an intense high pressure system migrating slowly east across the Great Australian Bight to bring a low-end gale force southeast fetch within close range of the southern Queensland coast from Tuesday onwards – in turn driving an extended run of mid to large SE swell for the region from Wednesday to Friday. The compact, clockwise wind-fetch wrapping around TC Ola’s south-western to south-eastern quadrants has a dual swell-impact on the region; simultaneously generating E and SE swell trains that should both be evident from Tuesday afternoon onwards. The latter, SE swell emerges as the dominant swell trains across the region, running at relatively short peak wave periods of 9 to 11 seconds to produce varying surf heights depending on each location’s swell exposure. At the same time a strong easterly fetch trailing off TC Ola’s south-western flank adds an additional, underlying E swell into the mix, making for a broad spectrum of swells with respect to both direction and period for the duration of the episode. For specifics on forecast surf heights for southern Queensland and northern NSW click here. Over the same time frame a high pressure ridge firming up across the Eastern Seaboard maintains strong SSE winds across the coast and this will invariably lend the surf-focus to southern Queensland’s point breaks and northern NSW sheltered bays for the duration of the swell event.

Catagory 3 Tropical Cyclone Ola reached maximum intensity on Monday morning and is forecast to track slowly south while gradually weakening over the next few days. Souce: Fiji Meteorological Service.

Catagory 3 Tropical Cyclone Ola reached maximum intensity on Monday morning and is forecast to track slowly south while gradually weakening over the next few days. Souce: Fiji Meteorological Service.

Regardless of a slow weaking of TC Ola into Tuesday and Wednesday, it's southward track brings a strengthening SE fetch within close range of southern Queensland and northern NSW to produce a solid run of SE swell through the second half of the week. Source: Fiji Meteorological Service.

Regardless of a slow weaking of TC Ola into Tuesday and Wednesday, it's southward track brings a strengthening SE fetch within close range of southern Queensland and northern NSW to produce a solid run of SE swell through the second half of the week. Source: Fiji Meteorological Service.

TC Ola’s impact on locations further south – particularly south of Seal Rocks – will be comparatively benign; contributing to a mix of relatively small E and SE swells – mostly only amounting to 2 to 3ft across the Sydney and South Coast region. The good news for these more southern locations is the additional presence of two back to back S groundswells; the first peaking on Thursday ahead of a second pulse on Friday . Check the detailed Sydney to South Coast forecast for more on this.

Latest Wave Tracker model runs pick up a combination of E and SE swells arising from TC Ola from Tuesday afternoon onwards.

Latest Wave Tracker model runs pick up a combination of E and SE swells arising from TC Ola from Tuesday afternoon onwards.


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