Forecaster Blog: Days of Easterly Swell for the East Coast

20 Jan 2015 1 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued 3.00pm, Tuesday, 20 January 2015.

People’s eyes tend to light up when I tell them there’s easterly swell on the way. As a general rule, the majority of NSW beaches tend to fare better once swell direction tends towards 90 degrees and for southern Queensland, easterly swell is a virtual prerequisite for good surf. If you concur then you’ll be pleased to hear there’s E swell by the truckload inbound across the entire Eastern Seaboard this week; a long-standing run of swell that should produce days solid surf from locations as far and wide as Noosa and Narooma.

Late January is shaping up as a busy surf period across the entire East Coast. Photo: Weathered.

Late January is shaping up as a busy surf period across the entire East Coast. Photo: Weathered.

OVERVIEW
The inception of this episode occurred over the last 24 hours following the development of a new high pressure system over the southern Tasman Sea. Initially the high established a firm ridge across the central Tasman on Tuesday responsible for a localised E to NE fetch that’s projected to gradually strengthen and expand in size as the high intensifies over the next few days. While the fetch will already be having a tangible impact across the NSW coast by Wednesday morning, it’s the additional development of a tropical depression along an active monsoon trough spanning the Coral Sea that acts as the catalyst for this swell event leading into the end of the working week and this weekend.

Wednesday's MSLP chart depicts a classic easterly dip forming between the tropical low and cradling high pressure system over the southeast Tasman Sea. Source: BOM.

Wednesday's MSLP chart depicts a classic easterly dip forming between the tropical low and cradling high pressure system over the southeast Tasman Sea. Source: BOM.

The relatively weak, 1004 hPa low pressure system remained slow moving northwest of New Caledonia over the next few days while slowly consolidating. Although the system lies in an atmospheric environment unsuitable for significant intensification towards tropical cyclone strength, the system will deepen marginally as it tracks slowly south-southeast through the remainder of the week. As this occurs it interacts with the high to the south to set up a broad easterly fetch encompassing the best part of the Tasman Sea – at least remaining intact from Wednesday through to Friday with scope for a rejuvenated ENE fetch to develop over the central-eastern Tasman Sea this weekend. Although associated wind-speeds only fluctuate in the moderate to strong, 15 to 30kt range, it’s close proximity to the Eastern Seaboard coupled with it’s extended lifespan gives rise to solid surf across all coasts – initially effecting the southern half of the NSW coast on Wednesday before beginning to show across northern NSW and southern Queensland coasts from Thursday onwards.


Peak wave growth associated with the source is projected to occur on Thursday, leading to a peak in ENE swell across the entire East Coast on Friday, followed by a slow easing trend setting in over the weekend. There is however scope for a secondary push in ESE swell on Monday/ Tuesday next week – but this remains contingent on the latter stages of the system’s development this weekend. At the same time the emerging high pressure ridge supports a predominant onshore E to NE airflow across the coast, but these winds shouldn’t be strong enough to completely erode wave quality – and it will generally blow at light to moderate strengths – ensuring surface conditions remain generally favourable. For specifics on forecast surf height, neashore winds and precise swell direction for your region, click here for Sydney and the South Coast, here for the Mid NSW coast and here for southern Queensland and Northern NSW.

This image depicts forecast surface winds for Wednesday night, showing the fetch reaching peak strength and driving wave growth to a maximum on Thursday. Source: BOM.

This image depicts forecast surface winds for Wednesday night, showing the fetch reaching peak strength and driving wave growth to a maximum on Thursday. Source: BOM.

This Wave Tracker image shows forecast peak wave period, indicating wave energy will reach a peak across the Eastern Seaboard on Friday.

This Wave Tracker image shows forecast peak wave period, indicating wave energy will reach a peak across the Eastern Seaboard on Friday.


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