Forecaster Blog: Ex-Tropical Cyclone Iris and The Easter Long Weekend
Issued Tuesday, March 27, 2018
If you cast your mind back to Easter 2017, you might recall a string of pumping days of surf; predominantly featuring offshore/ favourable winds and a consistent 3 to 4ft easterly swell. The year before that wasn’t too different. Easter 2016 also saw successive days of offshore winds and solid ESE swell; mostly ranging from 2 to 4ft. So of course, it begs the question; will we go three from three?
Are we about to receive another swell-filled Eastern long weekend featuring easterly swell in the 2 to 4ft range? For now, the answers are a tentative yes and yes respectively. In fact, Easter conditions for southern Queensland and northern NSW coasts will be significantly larger, but for Sydney and locations south, it looks like we’ll have 2 to 4ft of NE/ ENE swell on the menu for the duration of the Easter long weekend, with a mix of offshore and onshore winds making for varying conditions.
All this hinges on a weak tropical low over the Coral Sea; otherwise known as ex Tropical Cyclone Iris. The storm was only briefly named TC Iris by the BOM early on Saturday before being downgraded to ex-TC status by the afternoon and since then, the relatively weak circulation has been drifting slowly south across the Coral Sea.
Over the next 24 to 36 hours ex TC Iris will continue to drift south before being steered westward by a subtropical ridge to the south. At the same time we should see some modest re-intensification of the low giving rise to a strengthening easterly fetch in conjunction with the ridge. Although associated wind-speeds have been scaled down since earlier in the week, the news for southern Queensland is still all good. The close-proximity of the swell source to the southern Queensland coast will prove a boon for the region’s points and bays; delivering several days of consistent ESE swell in the 9 to 11 second band.
Southern Queensland and northern NSW
The onset of the swell commences on Wednesday with a steady building trend in ESE windswell; culminating in two full days of solid surf ranging anywhere from 4 to 6ft along the exposed beaches, while wrapping at lower levels into the points and bays. At the same time local winds aren’t exactly ideal, but they’ll remain well suited to the more sheltered spots as they blow moderate to strong out of the SE and ESE for most of the Easter weekend.
Sydney and the South Coast
For locations further south, the downgrading of the system isn’t exactly great news, but there’s still likely to be a solid NE pulse spreading down along the NSW coast right in time for Easter. Based on latest model runs, the leading edge of the swell begins to fill in across Sydney and surrounds throughout Friday afternoon before peaking in the vicinity of 2 to 4ft along the more exposed beaches on Saturday. For now there’s still some uncertainty surrounding the exact timing of ex TC Iris’s westward turn and re-intensification over the southern Coral Sea – and this keeps the door open to further revisions to the size and timing of the NE swell. Never the less the system will in all likelihood produce some great surf at the right place and time, so stay tuned to Wednesday’s detailed forecast for clarification.
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