Dialling In: Thurs, 22 July 2010.
Plenty of waves to be had across all coasts this weekend
Winter is a great time to be surfing. Sure there are undesirable aspects; early morning windchill, howling southerly airflows and varying degrees of inclement weather. Damp wetsuits that feel like they’ve been snap frozen. Scrambling to get to the coast before the light is gone.
On the other hand, given a decent layer of rubber, a cup of tea and some woolly clothes, winter can be brilliant. Early westerlies and consistent swell. Fewer faces in the lineup. Although the last couple of months haven’t been on par with May’s epic string of swells, we’ve still seen consistent, far less crowded conditions through the darkest days of winter and this weekend is a good case in point.
Tasman low delivers solid SE swell to the East Coast on Saturday
If you’ve been keeping an eye on this week’s synoptic charts, you would have spotted the 1000 hPa low hovering off New Zealand’s west coast on Wednesday or Thursday;
Source; BOM. A low over the south-eastern Tasman delivers a solid pulse of SE swell across the East Coast over the next few days.
The low developed in the wake of an active cold front traversing out across the southern Tasman early this week before gradually intensifying over the central-eastern Tasman into the middle of the week. On Wednesday the low started cranking out a powerful band of 40 to 50 knot clockwise winds close its centre, along with a broader S/SE fetch across its south-western flank;
Source; ASCAT. The above ASCAT images depict a broad swathe of SSE gales wrapping around the low's south-western quadrant on Thursday morning.
Although these wind speeds began to ease in strength on Thursday the negligible movement of the low ensured the south-easterly gales endured over the same body of water for close to 48 hours; long enough to generate a maximum wave height of 18 to 20 feet over the eastern Tasman;
Short window of opportunity across the NSW coast early Saturday
While the primary, S fetch spanning the low’s western quadrant aims the bulk of this energy northward at Fiji and New Caledonia, a strong SE wind vectors spanning the storms southern sector sends a strong pulse of SE swell out towards the East Coast. The leading edge of this energy arrives overnight, generating solid three to four foot surf across exposed coasts throughout Friday and holding similar sized surf into Saturday morning;
The ANNA Nearshore wave model for Bondi Beach captures the impact of the SE swell's arrival into Friday and Saturday.
SSE winds develop Saturday morning
The sticking point is a local southerly wind-flow, nurtured by a slow moving high pressure ridge lying across the Tasman. The ridge maintains a lighter S to SE flow compared to what we’ve seen across the region over the last few days, with early inshore westerlies giving way to moderate SSE winds early to mid morning and swinging further around to the E/SE during the afternoon.
Easing SE swell and lighter winds on Sunday
On Sunday the tail end of this episode should still be present at lower levels across Sydney and locations north; two to a less consistent three feet across the most exposed coasts, grading smaller at to one to two feet across the South Coast. Conditions will remain mostly clean all day as early light westerlies tend light S/SE during the day before swinging offshore again in the evening. Click here to check the detailed Sydney to South Coast forecast.
SE wraps into south-eastern Queensland at two to three feet
Locations north of the border will see incrementally less energy wrapping around Cape Byron and Point Danger. Saturday sees the peak of this episode generating one to three foot surf across Gold Coast, grading to a larger two to four feet across northern NSW depending on location;
The ANNA nearshore wave model for the Gold Coast picks up an increase in wave heights as the SE swell fills in on Friday and Saturday.
Similarly, winds remain SE across the region on Saturday morning before shifting lighter E during the day. By Sunday the tail end of the swell should be a foot smaller across the region under a light to moderate ESE wind regime becoming established as the ridge extends across the northern Tasman.
Click here for the detailed Queensland and northern NSW forecast.
Solid WSW swell and light ENE winds across the South West on Saturday
Saturday is shaping up as a good day to get amongst it across the South West. An easing WSW swell set to peak on Friday in the six foot range should ease back a foot or two by Saturday morning, combining with a light ENE flow to produce great conditions across the region all morning.
The swell is the by-product of a very large, complex low pressure gyre that remained slow moving over the southern Indian Ocean this week, generating a broad area of strong WSW winds behind a series of cold fronts approaching the West Coast;
Source BOM. A large, complex extratropical low over the southern Indian Ocean maintained a broad WSW fetch across our swell window this week.
WSW swell gradually abates over the weekend
Although vast in dimensions, the strongest wind-fetch associated with the low depicted above blew NW ahead of the first cold front. The broad WSW fetch trailing the system generated lower winds speeds ranging from 20 to 35 knots. Hence the resulting swell won’t be overly large; peaking up around six feet plus on Friday before easing back into the three to five foot range on Saturday.
The swell is greeted by early light to moderate E/NE winds associated with a broad ridge extending off a high over the Great Australian Bight. These are likely to shift NNE during the morning as the ridge contracts eastward before turning W into the afternoon;
Source; BOM. A ridge lying across the coast sees early light NE winds swinging N, then W across the South West Coast on Saturday.
WSW swell should level off around three to four feet on Sunday as the northerly flow persists throughout the day. Click here for the West Australian detailed forecast.
Small to mid range SW swell and light winds across Victorian coasts all weekend
Torquay surfers can look forwards to a continuation of small clean surf across the region this weekend. A stronger pulse of SW swell due on Friday should level off around two to three feet on Saturday morning. Wave heights across exposed beaches will range a foot or two bigger depending on location. Throughout Saturday conditions remain cleanest across the Surf Coast under the influence of a light WNW flow linked to a broad high pressure system propagating eastward across the Bight;
Source: BOM. A slow moving high over the Bight maintains a light westerly flow across Victorian coast on Saturday. W winds gradually increase in strength ahead of a cold front approaching western Bass Strait on Sunday.
Throughout Saturday afternoon expect some slight reinforcement from a new SW swell overlapping with Friday’s swell. This bulk of this energy should fill in overnight, pushing in at three to five feet across the most exposed beaches. A slight westerly bias in swell direction should ensure wave heights continue to pulse in the two to three foot range across the Surf Coast, gradually abating as westery winds increase into the afternoon;
The Jan Juc Buoy; SW swell maintains two to three foot surf across the region all weekend.
For more detail check the latest Victorian forecast here.
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