Swell Alert: Tropical Cyclone Oma’s Updated Surf-Potential For The Weekend

22 Feb 2019 1 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Updated 5.00pm, Friday 22 February, 2019

Well, it’s here; stacked lines of East and rising SE cyclone-swell wrapping relentlessly down Queensland’s points. Surfers took to the more sheltered spots like Noosa and Kirra in droves throughout Friday, but more exposed breaks like Snapper were seeing waaay overhead wash-throughs, offering little more than a quick-trip north for those attempting the paddle out. Further south, Byron Bay was providing plenty of shelter from the wind and swell; offering up small, clean waves at Clarke’s, steadily growing in size from the Wreck north.

So, nothing off-the-charts so far, but what about the weekend? Is the southern Queensland coast about to washed away by the still southward moving Tropical Cyclone Oma?

Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Oma is now sitting plumb inside our swell window, where it will remain for most of the weekend. Source: Fiji Meteorological Service.

Category 1 Tropical Cyclone Oma is now sitting plumb inside our swell window, where it will remain for most of the weekend. Source: Fiji Meteorological Service.

Thankfully not. You may have already noticed the swell forecast linked to category 1 TC Oma has come back down to earth a bit over the last couple of days. None the less, it's still definitely shaping up as a very large and potentially dangerous swell-event that's on track to peak this weekend. The cyclone is now located less than 320 nautical miles east northeast of the Gold Coast and was last tracked moving south at about 10 knots.

The phenomenal SE swell projections have clearly come down to earth over the last 48 hours, but the TC Oma swell still looms as a very large event none the less. Source: Wave Tracker.

The phenomenal SE swell projections have clearly come down to earth over the last 48 hours, but the TC Oma swell still looms as a very large event none the less. Source: Wave Tracker.

There’s now strong agreement among the various models and Meteorological agencies indicating TC Oma will continue to drift south overnight before briefly stalling – and then turning about face and drifting back to the north on Saturday morning. Again, this is all forecast to occur at relatively low-speeds, so the net-effect is to extend the duration of its swell-producing winds inside our swell window out to several days - in turn driving a large, unruly storm-swell, to very large peaks in the 10 to 12ft plus realm along exposed coasts later Saturday through Sunday morning.

The forecast track for TC Oma depicted here is now widely reflected in all latest model runs. That means a full weekend of very large SE and Easterly swell for the southern Queensland coast, slowly easing early to mid next week. Source: BOM.

The forecast track for TC Oma depicted here is now widely reflected in all latest model runs. That means a full weekend of very large SE and Easterly swell for the southern Queensland coast, slowly easing early to mid next week. Source: BOM.

Once the system begins to move north, a steady weakening of the swell-generating winds will follow; in turn leading to a slow decline in wave heights as swell direction transitions from SE to ESE early to mid next week. That should mean still thumping surf along the points under easing SE winds on Monday and Tuesday, before conditions begin to settle to more typical levels from Wednesday onwards.

Latest WW3 runs, like this one for the Sunshine coast, are still impressive; showing very large SE swell peaking later Saturday through early Sunday. Source: Wave Tracker.

Latest WW3 runs, like this one for the Sunshine coast, are still impressive; showing very large SE swell peaking later Saturday through early Sunday. Source: Wave Tracker.

At this point, there are good indications TC Oma will continue to drift north and weaken over the course of next week; eventually stalling or dissipating off the northern NSW coast, north of Townville next weekend. The good news is we’re likely to see a continuation of mid-sized easterly tradewind swell gracing the region over this time frame. A high pressure system moving out across the southern Tasman sea early to mid next week will elongate the subtropical ridge eastward across the Southwest Pacific, facilitating the extension of a very long ESE to SE tradewind belt from the Queensland coast, out to the dateline.

For now, that points to many days of pumping E swell; initially still up to 3 to 5ft mid to late next week before levelling off in the 3 to 4ft range over the weekend of Saturday 2nd March, and continuing at slow-diminishing levels into the following week. Keep in mind there’s still plenty of uncertainty surrounding TC Oma’s future track and behaviour over the course of next week, so stay tuned for updates on Monday.


Tags: Swell Alert , Ben Macartney , Tropical Cyclone Oma (create Alert from these tags)

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