Bali, Indonesia Surf Forecast 12 - 21 October, 2016
There’s no disguising the fact that Indonesia’s swell window is starting to look a lot more like spring/ summer than winter/ spring. At this time of year a ‘large’ swell event tends to land in the 3 to 6ft range as opposed to the 6 to 10ft winter-norm – and the current forecast is pretty well in line with this trend. While there are still some robust, mid-range pulses looming on October’s forecast horizon, you probably won’t have to worry about packing your rhino chaser or practice holding your breath on the flight in. Just throw in a few short-boards, a pair of boardies and Bob’s your uncle.
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A steady easing trend in SSW swell sees still fun sized surf ranging either side of 3ft across exposed breaks on Wednesday ahead of a further drop in size into the end of the week. This culminates in tiny surf on Friday and Saturday ahead of a new SSW groundswell filling in Sunday, peaking Monday ahead of another reinforcing pulse in the 3 to 6ft range on Tuesday.
SSW swell. Sets to 2 – 4ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE 5 to 10 knots.
Fading SSW swell. Slow sets to 2 – 3ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE to SE around 10 knots.
Small scale SSW swell slowly fades. Around 1 - 2ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE to SE 10 knots.
Tiny SSW swell. Infrequent 1 - 2ft max exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE 10 to 15 knots.
New SSW groundswell. Inconsistent sets to 2 – 3ft exposed breaks early, bumping up into the afternoon. Grading smaller elsewhere. WIND: Light and variable tending SE 5 to 10 knots.
SSW groundswell peaks. 3 – 5ft exposed breaks. Grading smaller elsewhere depending on exposure. WIND: Early light and variable tending ESE 5 to 10 knots.
The arrival of a new round of mid-period SSW swell saw solid surf on offer throughout The Archipelago on Tuesday; mostly running at a consistent 3 to 5ft across exposed reefs all morning. This episode originated from a polar low that set up south-west of the Kerguelen Islands last Wednesday; initially setting up a modest WSW fetch in conjunction with a high-pressure system anchored south of Madagascar. On Thursday the system merged into a broader low-pressure complex on the verge of Western Australian longitudes, whereupon it established a more substantial SSW fetch that aligned directly with Indonesia. Going on latest virtual buoy data, Tuesday morning marks a peak in size for this event preceding a steady decline in size throughout the remainder of the week.
By Wednesday morning expect a notable drop in size to a still fun 2 to 3ft plus across the exposed breaks – and it’s well worth making the most of these leftovers before the tail end drops off to tiny levels on Thursday and Friday. This impending lull in wave action is in large part attributable to a high-pressure system that set up east of Madagascar late last week before burgeoning as it pushed out into the central Indian Ocean last weekend. The high’s suppressing influence coincided with a couple of days of suppressed frontal activity throughout polar latitudes – and the knock on effect is likely to be tiny to near flat conditions prevailing throughout the Archipelago late Friday through early Saturday.
Thankfully, this virtual flat spell won’t last for long. The emergence of a pair of polar lows from out below South Africa last weekend merged to form an intense extratropical low located over the south-western Indian Ocean on Sunday and Monday. The system’s central pressure bottomed out around 936 hPa and it supported a broad swathe of strong westerly gales – mostly confined to polar latitudes bounded by 50S and 60S. Given the remote location of this source and a steady weakening of the low as it moves further east over the next 24 hours, the resulting groundswell isn’t shaping up as anything to write home about. The leading edge fills in late Saturday ahead of the bulk of long-period energy arriving on Sunday 16 October – and this should see a good-sized pulse into the 3 to 4ft range during the afternoon. The bulk of swell should fill in at a solid 3 to 5ft on Monday 17 - and going on latest GFS runs this will be reinforced by a new, possibly larger S pulse on Tuesday 18.
As the remnants of the aforementioned low sweep below Sumatera over the next couple of days we should see a new low pressure system forming along an active cold front. This moderate strength low looks typical of this time of year; briefly setting up a SSW fetch inside Indonesia’s swell window on Thursday and Friday before it shifts inside Western Australia’s swell-shadow by Saturday morning. Going on latest GFS guidance, the system will support a broad area of 20 to 35-knot winds, surrounding a more compact area of core wind speeds reaching 35 to 45 knots. The closer proximity of this source coupled with the favourable alignment of the fetch with Indonesia point to another solid, mid-period pulse peaking on Tuesday 18; speculatively in the 4 to 6ft range. Keep in mind the low’s position directly below Indonesia will generate a directional, southerly pulse; inbound from an acute angle of 190 to 200 degrees – and this will exacerbate the differential between exposed breaks and more sheltered ones like those inside the Bukit Peninsula.
Given these projections prove accurate; we’re likely to see another good day of mid-sized surf in the 2 to 4ft range on Wednesday 19 before this episode dwindles away. The good news is this may well be superseded by a new round of longer period SSW groundswell on Thursday. This hinges on the passage of an intense, fast-moving polar low forecast to track swiftly across the southern Indian Ocean this weekend; supporting maximum significant wave heights of 30 to 40ft below the 50S parallel as it goes. Although still storm-dependent, this holds good potential for a strong pulse mid-sized groundswell arriving somewhere in the 3 to 6ft range out of the 220 to 200-degree band on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 October. Given the lead-time on this, revisions to the size and timing of this event are considered likely in next week’s update. Beyond that, long-range model guidance depicts a fairly subdued synoptic pattern prevailing throughout the southern Indian Ocean into the week beginning Monday 17 October – and at this stage this hints at small to mid-sized surf prevailing into the final third of the month.
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