Cyclone Iggy: ready to rock the West?

31 Jan 2012 0 Share

Source BOM. Tropical Cycone Iggy tracked southward, parallel to the West Coast on Tuesday.

Source BOM. Tropical Cycone Iggy tracked southward, parallel to the West Coast on Tuesday.

Words by Ben Macartney

They say history repeats itself. If you’re a surfer residing on Western Australia’s South West Coast, you’ll be no doubt hoping this rule applies to Tropical Cyclone Iggy - a category one system currently tracking south south-eastward off the West Coast.

Source: BOM. Almost one year ago to the day, Tropical Cyclone Bianca adopted a similar poleward track off the West Coast. b

Source: BOM. Almost one year ago to the day, Tropical Cyclone Bianca adopted a similar poleward track off the West Coast. b


Almost one year ago to the day, severe Tropical Cyclone Bianca adopted a very similar track off the West Coast, initially forming along the Pilabara coast on 26 January 2011 before further intensifying as it tracked out into the Indian Ocean. TC Bianca then curved southward and moved parallel to the West Coast during January 27 and 28 before adopting a south-eastward track, towards the South West Coast during Saturday, 29 January.

Source: BOM.  TC Bianca aimed a compact, gale to strong gale force NW fetch squarely at the South West Coast on January 29 setting up a powerful round of NNW swell across the region the following day.

Source: BOM. TC Bianca aimed a compact, gale to strong gale force NW fetch squarely at the South West Coast on January 29 setting up a powerful round of NNW swell across the region the following day.


Regardless of its increasingly southern latitude, TC Bianca maintained category 3 intensity as it approached the South West, aiming a compact gale to strong gale force NW fetch at the region for over 24 hours.

Around this time last year TC Bianca generated a freak NW swell for the South West that produced a full day translucent, grinding right hand barrels at a beach usually known for its straight handers. Unfortunately TC Iggy, currently tracking south off the West Coast, isn’t expected to produce this kind of candy.

Around this time last year TC Bianca generated a freak NW swell for the South West that produced a full day translucent, grinding right hand barrels at a beach usually known for its straight handers. Unfortunately TC Iggy, currently tracking south off the West Coast, isn’t expected to produce this kind of candy.


Although the dimensions of the gale to storm force fetch was relatively small, TC Bianca’s south-eastward movement brought the swell producing winds within close range of the South West Coast over this time frame and enduring just long enough to generate an extremely rare pulse of NNW swell that turned normally non-descript beaches into barreling, point-like set ups.

Source: BOM. TC Iggy is projected to curve back towards the West Coast on Wednesday, briefly bringing clockwise, gale force winds within close range of the South West.

Source: BOM. TC Iggy is projected to curve back towards the West Coast on Wednesday, briefly bringing clockwise, gale force winds within close range of the South West.


Now, almost one year later to the day, severe Tropical Cyclone Iggy (TC Iggy) threatens a repeat of this freak event. TC Iggy commenced its lifecycle over a week ago as a tropical low centred off the Pilbara Coast on Monday 23 January. The low intensified to a Category 1 system as it moved westward into the Indian Ocean last Wednesday before turning about face and moving back towards the North West Coast during Thursday and Friday before stalling over the region last weekend. Although we’ve had reports of solid surf across the Pilbara Coast and surrounding islands, the gale force NW fetch spanning its upper flank remained well out of range of the South West Coast over this time frame. On Monday Category 2 TC Iggy began to track poleward, moving SSW, parallel to the southern Pilbara coast to be located about 445km west of Exmouth on Monday morning.


TC Iggy is on track to deliver a small pulse of acutely directional NNW swell for the South West Coast on Thursday and Friday.

TC Iggy is on track to deliver a small pulse of acutely directional NNW swell for the South West Coast on Thursday and Friday.

Above: Highlights from TC Bianca last year


Although the poleward movement of the storm roughly mirrors the aforementioned track of TC Bianca off the West Coast one year earlier, similarities between the two systems end here. There are several key differentiating factors indicating TC Iggy is unlikely to produce the calibre of NNW swell generated by TC Bianca. The primary one being its much lower intensity (Category 1 and 2),indicating maximum wind speeds associated with the system are significantly weaker than those generated by Bianca.

The other factor is TC Iggy’s less favourable orientation to the South West, given its current south-eastward track that’s likely to see it crossing the coast between Kalbarri and Geraldton. Based on lower wind speeds affecting the swell window for a shorter duration, TC Iggy is only expected to push in around the two foot mark on Thursday afternoon – potentially pushing up into the three foot range late in the day and fading again throughout Friday morning.


For more on this check the detailed West Coast forecast on Wednesday.

Follow this swell on the Wavetracker - Exclusive to Coastalwatch Plus

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Tags: Cyclone Iggy , western , australia , forecast , cyclone , Cyclone Bianca (create Alert from these tags)

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