East Coast: June 20–24, 2007
This update includes detailed analysis from our knowledgeable forecasting team in regard to recent swell events.
It is no secret the east coast has been pumping of late. It has been well documented on the Coastalwatch site via our Line up of the Day photos that appear daily on our home page, through Ben Mac’s forecasting, previous Meltdowns and of course in our localised reports and cams.
Just in case you have been under a rock and missed the action though, here is a collection of images showcasing the great waves we have been enjoying on the east coast since the much publicized third East coast low moved offshore to the south of Sydney last Wednesday.
Wednesday was a solid 8ft + from the Sth, Thursday was a cleaner 4-5ft,Friday was 4-6ft, Saturday 6ft + and Sunday was a solid 6-7ft easy. The wind was mostly offshore.
Our experienced forecasting team made some knowledgeable observations in regard to recent events. Read on below as they share some insights with us. – Ben Horvath
How East Coast Lows Develop.
East coast lows often develop following upper level troughs over eastern Australia. The intensification of the trough and adjacent areas of strong high pressure drives the rapid development of the low. While destructive when forming near the coast with gale force winds and heavy rainfall they can be a blessing for surfers when they form or move offshore. June is the most common time of year for ECL's and while usually only lasting a few days, a pattern of similar atmospheric conditions will often produce repeat appearances. Extreme beach erosion is often related to a series of events like this rather than just a single event because the outer storm bar has little chance to return shoreward and build before the next round of high wave energy. - Darrell Strauss
East coast lows-brave new world or yesterdays' news?
For those of us with an interest in things meteorological, the recent spate of East Coast Lows may be surprising.
If you own a ship that's parked on Nobbys' Beach, Newcastle, it's probably more of an annoyance than an interesting surprise.
In fact, this phenomenon whereby a single, relatively small, but highly intense low pressure cell just seems to pop up off the East coast is not uncommon at all.
It's just been on a long holiday; only returning now and again to say 'hello'.
Back in the mid to late 1970's East coast lows were the source of many of the best swells to be had in winter on the Gold Coast and Northern New South Wales points.
These storms would form up between Coffs Harbor and the South Coast and drift slowly north for a bit, before stopping well offshore and winding up into real little monsters. They often had very little weather associated with them, (unless you were out at sea), and usually delivered strong offshore winds along the beaches.
It was very common to look in a newspaper and see a perfectly round, tight fisted low, black with isobars, sitting off the lower Mid North Coast for days at a time.
Occasionally rain inland would hit flood levels and deepwater groundswell would eventually wind onto the Gold Coast point breaks.
Perfect weather and flawless offshore winds were a given. It was a golden time. Often Sydney surfers profited too. Then, it stopped.
Well pretty much stopped anyway.
For decades now, many of the wiser members of the meteorological family in Oz have been saying that the end of the '70's marked the start of 'less than normal weather ' generally on our East coast. Time has proven these blokes to be correct as we've had nothing like the weather that came through the place in the 60's and 70's. This relates to general weather, cyclones as well as East coastlLows.
That means that three generations of surfers in Australia haven't even seen a 'normal' year.
Think about that for a minute.
It hasn't been flat but it sure hasn't been as good as the old guys always say it was. There's a reason. They're right. The surf generally has been weaker and less consistent.
Oh sure there have been some nasty weather events, but no exciting, gnarly weather for days and even weeks on end; season after season, has there?
This is a related mainly to the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt which is a deepwater system, slowly circulating around the entire globe and subtly controlling all the major weather systems through its longer term influence on the atmosphere.
Until relatively recent times, this wasn't even known about, although its influence was certainly there to be seen as an effect.
When these systems' actual cycles are finally determined we'll likely discover that they influence our weather patterns in roughly 20 year periods.
And bear in mind that this is not an El Niño or La Nina event either. These occur in much shorter cycles and La Ninas may only add to the effect when they're present.
It appears to many that we exited the calmer weather scenario late in Australia in the very late 1990's and are now heading full steam into a fifteen to twenty year period of more 'normal' or more frequent severe weather. This has nothing to do with climate change, (although that will most likely have additional effects which remain to be seen).
There is evidence to show that this return is in effect now, and these last 3 Lows might be part of the new/older weather pattern which we should now expect and prepare for.
This point is key because, in the 20 years or so that the weather was mellower, much construction has occurred along our Eastern marine coastal interface.
That's BEACHES for those of us interested in plain English. This has implications for insurance and lifesaving as well. Big implications.
So get yourselves ready and if you think that old gangster at your home beach is tripping when he goes on about 'the good old days'; you'd better have a listen.
When the shit really comes down, he's going to be the only person around who'll actually know the right places to paddle out at. After all, he probably learned from a guy who was there before him. A guy who was there when things were...normal. - Mike Perry
Hayden O'neill reports from Bali where the latest swell has hit from the Southern Indian Ocean
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From the GWC2020: The Law's On Our Side
You gotta see this!
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This Week In Surfing: Ten Things from Surfing & the Internet on the Week That Was February 14, 2020
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