Forecaster Blog: Sustained NE windswell for the East Coast

30 Oct 2019 0 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The transitional months of October and November don’t have great reputations for good surf across the East Coast, but this year, October has rated well above average – both with respect to surf consistency and quality. That trend looks set to continue into the opening days of November with the arrival of a new round of northeasterly windswell across the region. And sure, short period northeast swells isn’t necessarily anything to write home about – but it’s a whole lot better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick.

On Thursday there were already some small, short-period waves arriving out of the northeast; marking a precursor to a more substantial building trend in NE windswell setting in over the next few days; compliments of a high pressure system developing over the Tasman Sea combining with a deep frontal low centred south of Western Australia.

Disclaimer: This photo is not necessarily indicative of the quality of surf you might find across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by GreyC.

Disclaimer: This photo is not necessarily indicative of the quality of surf you might find across the NSW coast this weekend. Photo: Uploaded to CW by GreyC.

Over the next few days the high pressure system depicted above will drop anchor over the central Tasman Sea, supporting a broad ridge across the Eastern Seaboard for roughly four straight days. The negligible movement of the high, coupled with the continued eastward progression of the frontal boundary to the west culminates in a steepening pressure gradient over the Eastern Seaboard; translating into a long-enduring NNE fetch spanning most of the NSW coast, reaching maximum sustained speeds of 25 to 30 knots throughout Friday and the weekend.

A high pressure system over the Tasman Sea and a deep low below the Bight emerge as the atmospheric elements driving a building trend in NE swell over the coming days. Source: BOM.

A high pressure system over the Tasman Sea and a deep low below the Bight emerge as the atmospheric elements driving a building trend in NE swell over the coming days. Source: BOM.

The close range of the fetch to the southern half of the NSW coast sees most of the resulting swell effecting locations from Sydney south. Source: BOM.

The close range of the fetch to the southern half of the NSW coast sees most of the resulting swell effecting locations from Sydney south. Source: BOM.

Given the above fetch area runs parallel to the coastline, the resulting NE swell will be refracted, short period energy exhibiting peak intervals of 8 to 9 seconds; for the most part showing peak size in the 3 to 5ft range at the more exposed open breaks later Saturday through Sunday morning.

The end result is a sustained run of NE swell across the NSW coast throughout the weekend. Source: Wave Tracker.

The end result is a sustained run of NE swell across the NSW coast throughout the weekend. Source: Wave Tracker.

However, unlike last Saturday’s small, but ultra-clean clean pulse of NE swell groomed by all day offshores, this episode will be topped by a solid layer of sea-state; fueled by the same north to NNE winds driving the swell. With the exception of periods of lighter inshore winds during the early morning hours that’s going to translate into pretty bumpy, disorganised conditions across the majority of exposed stretches. That will lend the focus to northern headlands offering a bit of shelter from the breeze – at least until a southerly change moves in on Monday.

Wave period hits a high point of 8 to 9 seconds on Sunday, hinting at slightly better organised conditions than Saturday. Source: Wave Tracker.

Wave period hits a high point of 8 to 9 seconds on Sunday, hinting at slightly better organised conditions than Saturday. Source: Wave Tracker.


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