Long Range Christmas Forecast Is Looking Good
COASTALWATCH | LONG RANGE CHRISTMAS FORECAST
Forecast issued Thursday, 8 December 2016
As a wee fella, my brother and I always fared pretty well at Christmas time. There was always tons of food and Mum and Dad, as well as the Grandparents consistently spoilt us rotten. So it follows that, come Christmas morning we were always frothing; tearing downstairs to wake up the folks and rip into our presents. That feeling of exhilaration as a kid is how I’ve always described what it’s like to wake up to perfect surf: it’s like Christmas.
This year, it looks like every state will have surf to wake up to on Christmas morning. Queensland will see a fun-sized easterly tradewind swell offering up rippable conditions – and this will mix in with small-scale NE windswell across NSW at slightly lower levels. Further south, Victoria and South Australia see a couple of fun days across the exposed beaches, preceding the arrival of a larger WSW swell-event on Boxing Day. It’s only over west that Santa will really deliver; sending in a large SW groundswell that’s set to peak on Christmas eve through Christmas morning, with cross-offshore winds producing interesting options statewide.
Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
It’s fair to say it’s shaping up as a pretty stereotypical Australian Christmas on the beach this year. Based on loose, long-range computer model consensus, we’re looking at a string of days characterised by above average air-temps, N to NE winds and a small-scale NE windswell combining with some mid-period, background E tradewind swell; for the most part maintain surf in the 2ft range across the more exposed beaches for days at a stretch. Of course, at this early stage there’s still plenty of scope for alterations to the outlook – so stay tuned for updates later in the week.
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ENE swell. Sets around 2ft exposed open beaches, mixing with slight S swell at lower levels across south facing breaks. WIND: Early light N to NW, tending NNE 10 to 15 knots during the afternoon.
Combination of underlying ENE tradewind swell and short-range NE windswell. Ranging either side of 2ft across exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light N to NW, tending NE and freshening to 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
Primary NE windswell underpinned by background ENE swell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light NNW tending NE 15 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
NE windswell. Ranging from 1 - 3ft exposed open breaks, grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Early light NNW tending NE 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
Queensland and Far Northern NSW
On the one hand, Santa looks unlikely to deliver any major tropical swell-events for the region this Christmas – and it’s now increasingly likely that any tropical cyclone derived swell-events won’t appear until sometime in 2017. On the other hand, it’s now looking increasingly likely we’ll see some pretty fun waves on tap throughout holiday period. This hinges on the future lifecycle of a humble little tropical low (TD04F) that’s been hovering just west of Fiji for the past week; supporting a moderate easterly tradewind belt in conjunction with a Southwest Pacific high pressure system.
While TDO4F isn’t anticipated to develop into a tropical cyclone, it will continue to maintain a moderate easterly fetch inside our long-range swell window as it tracks south to south-eastward, below Fiji over the next few days. This should be just enough to send out another, relatively low-period (9 to 11 seconds) pulse arriving just in time for the Christmas weekend. Stay tuned for updates on this later in the week.
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Mid period E tradewind swell. Solid 2 – 3ft+ exposed open breaks, grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE and ENE 10 to 15 knots.
Mid period E tradewind swell. Sets ranging from 2 - 3ft+ exposed open breaks, easing during the afternoon. Grading smaller inside the points and bays. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE to ENE 10 to 15 knots.
Short period ESE tradewind swell. 2 - 3ft+ exposed open breaks, speculatively picking up towards 3 – 4ft during the afternoon. WIND: ESE 10 to 20 knots.
ESE tradewind swell. Speculatively 3 - 4ft exposed open breaks, easing during the afternoon. WIND: ESE 10 to 15 knots.
There’s a great mix of conditions in store for Victorian coasts over the holiday period. This looks like commencing with some fun-for-all-the-family SW swell over the Christmas weekend; mostly hovering around 2 to 3ft across the exposed beaches under early favourable NE winds on both days.
However, come boxing day, the kids might just have to watch as mum and/or dad take on some serious Southern Ocean juice; comprised of a long-range WSW groundswell kicking in during the day. While still dependent on the evolution of a distant Indian Ocean low, this event is shaping up as a solid 4 to 6ft day across the exposed beaches, with scope for slow 3 to 4ft sets across the Surf Coast – but stay tuned for updates as the system develops over the next few days.
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Smaller-scale SW swell. Around 2 – 3ft exposed coasts, grading to 1 – 2ft at best across the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light ENE tending light and variable, then SE 5 to 15 knots during the afternoon.
Mix of small, long and mid-period SW swells. Sets to 2 – 3ft+ exposed breaks. Grading to 1 – 2ft max along the Surf Coast. WIND: Early light NNE tending ENE to ESE and freshening to 10 to 20 knots during the afternoon.
Long period WSW groundswell fills in. Long-lined sets ranging from 4 – 6ft exposed beaches. Grading to 3 – 4ft across the Surf Coast. WIND: Model divergence. Possibly N 10 to 20 knots tending E to SE later.
Easing WSW groundswell. Sets to 3 – 5ft exposed coasts early, easing to 2 – 4ft during the afternoon. Grading to 2 - 3ft across the Surf Coast, fading during the day. WIND: Speculatively NE to SE 10 to 20 knots.
If Santa surfed, you’d probably find him somewhere along the West Coast this Christmas. The arrival of a large SW groundswell occurs just in time for the Chrissy break; building in steeply throughout Saturday and holding peak size early on Sunday.
Hence, along with the swell, I’m forecasting a few conversations along the following lines as the kids open their presents on Christmas morning: Sad Child: “Mum, where’s Dad?” Cranky Mum: “He’s towing into Cow Bombie or he’s out at Main Break on his 10ft gun”. Large SW swell aside, a moderate to strong SSE wind-regime will probably keep a lid on rideable options through the height of the swell. It may not be until early on Boxing Day that lighter ESE winds open up a wider range of good options as the swell backs off – and it looks like it will be worth making the most of these conditions while they last. The arrival of a strong SW change on Monday arvo is projected to lead in a full day of onshore conditions on Tuesday, with a new SW swell boosting surf heights to a stormy 6ft plus across the exposed Southwest Breaks.
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Large SW groundswell fills in under variable S'ly wind. Southwest coast: 4 – 6ft+ early, building to 6-10ft exposed breaks during the afternoon. Perth/Mandurah: 2ft, possible larger sets. WIND: SSE winds 5-10kts early, tending S to SSW 15-20kts.
Easing SW groundswell under light winds early. Southwest coast: 6-8ft+ early, easing to 5 – 6ft during the arvo. Perth/Mandurah: 1 - 2ft+ sets. WIND: Early SE 15 to 25 knots, tending SSE to SSW 15-25kts.
Faded SW swell under morning offshore winds. Southwest coast: 3 - 4ft+. Perth/Mandurah: 1ft+. WIND: ESE 10kts early, tending light S then rising SSW 15-20kts.
Stormy mid-period SW swell fills in under strong onshore winds. Southwest coast: Windblown 5 - 6ft+ exposed breaks. Perth/Mandurah: 1 - 2ft. E winds 10kts early, tending light S then rising SSW 15-20kts.
Like Victoria, it looks like South Australia will see a couple of slow surfing days over the Christmas weekend, preceding the onset of a more substantial swell-event on Boxing Day. At this early stage, the WSW swell direction and long-range of the swell-source looks like capping surf heights at 2 to 4ft across the South Coast on Monday, with scope for some 1 to 2ft sets across the Mid. Given it’s still early days, revisions to the size and timing of this swell are still on the cards, so check back for updates later in the week.
Leftover SW swell. 1 - 2ft across exposed South Coast beaches. Grading to 0.5ft along the Mid Coast. WIND: Earl light WSW tending SW 10 to 15 knots during the day.
Faded SW swell. Around 1 – 2ft exposed South Coast beaches. Grading 0.5ft along the Mid Coast. WIND: Early light and variable N preceding a SSW change 15 to 20 knots during the morning.
Solid WSW groundswell fills in. Solid 2 – 4ft exposed South Coast beaches, picking up during the afternoon. Grading to 1ft or so across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early NNE 10 to 20 knots tending S 10 to 15 knots during the day.
Easing SW swell. 2 - 3ft South Coast beaches, easing during the afternoon. Grading to 1ft or so across the Mid Coast. WIND: Early NNE 10 to 20 knots tending S 10 to 15 knots during the day.
NNW cyclone-swells are as rare as hen's teeth across the West Coast - and TC Marcus looks like delivering one this weekend.
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