East Coast Low - Wild Weather Produces Perfect Pits.

20 Jun 2011 0 Share

Swell Event
June 10-19, 2011
Words by Ben Horvath.

Snapper turned on briefly on Monday 13/6/11.

Snapper turned on briefly on Monday 13/6/11.

The last two months have been pretty consistent right up and down the East Coast. I wouldn’t say it has been absolutely epic, as per June ‘07, but there’s certainly no shortage of stoke in the air, as it has been pretty close to non-stop on the swell front since mid April.

Autumn 2011 will go down in the record books as Australia's coolest autumn since 1950. The abnormally cool temperatures were largely the result of the strong 2010/11 La Niña event which brought heavy rainfall and cool daytime temperatures to Australia, before decaying in late autumn. Of the five coolest autumns nation-wide since 1950, four have occurred during or following La Niña events.

It was also the fourth wettest autumn on record with 203 mm falling in Sydney. Hot on the heels of the very cool and wet autumn we have experienced a succession of East Coast Lows (ECL’s). ECL’s are common at this time of year. In June 1950, a series of them gave Sydney its wettest month on record and, on average, June remains Sydney’s wettest month. Sydney surfers will never forget the eight consecutive ECL’s that delivered an unparalleled month of madness in June ‘07.

Last week’s ECL wreaked havoc right up and down the NSW coast. Although it wasn’t that intense, heavy rainfall saw most coastal rivers between Grafton and the Central Coast flooded. South West Rocks received 570 mm of rain since Saturday June 11. Smoky Cape scored 423 mm and Yamba 351.
 
The wild week of weather began back on Friday June 10 on the eve of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Friday dawned three-to-five foot, offshore and sunny with potential for a solid, clean south swell over the long weekend. However, a ridge and trough formed off northern NSW, so winds shifted onshore ahead of schedule – souring the weekend weather and water surface conditions.
 
By Monday June 13 an ECL off northern NSW was dumping record rainfall and pushing up an east swell – similar, though slightly smaller than the one a fortnight before. Welcome to Winter - The East Coast Explodes

As the low moved south-south-east, winds begun spinning offshore north of it’s path. The Sunshine Coast was first to clear. Winds shifted offshore NW on Tuesday and Wednesday June 14-15. Similarly the Gold and Northern NSW coasts turned on too, as relentless onshores gave way to pristine west-north-west winds. The beachies started firing as peaky three-to-five foot pits exploded on fresh, shallow sandbanks.
 
By mid afternoon on Thursday June 16 the wind finally swung south-west in Sydney. Sneaky, empty late sessions were enjoyed by savvy crew that were onto the wind shift right up and down the central and southern NSW coast.
 
Friday morning was one of those days. It dawned perfectly clear, with punchy four-to-six foot peaks from the east, brushed clean by light offshore north-west winds. It was pumping. Around mid morning winds shifted more west-south-west opening up even more options.
 
Sat morning was clean as a whistle. There were two swells in the water, some leftover esat-south-east in the three-to-four foot range combining with some three-to-five foot south swell making for peaky, shifty beachie bowls sling-shotting left and right wherever you looked. The wind blew offshore west-south-west all day making for a special day of clean beachbreaks right up and down the coast.
 
There was one final pulse of more direct south swell on Sunday morning at peak intervals up in the 10-12 second range. It was cleaner again, as winds were light westerly. Sets were in the three-to-five foot range early, easing to two-to-four feet later in the afternoon.
 
It has been one hell of a consistent eight week period, but this week is looking like being small as a big blocking high moves into the Tasman. Keep your eye on Benny Mac’s forecast and let us know where you scored last week or on the weekend.
 
With the demise of La Niña, a return to above average temperatures is expected, particularly in southern Australia.
 


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