East Coast Swell Alert: August 28, 2015

28 Aug 2015 0 Share

Issued Friday, 28 August 2015

A complex East Coast Low (ECL) that set up off the NSW coast early this week just keeps on giving.

In the wake of several days of strong ESE swell, Friday afternoon saw a rejuvenated S swell rebuilding into the 4 to 6ft plus range across Sydney’s southern exposures. Although this pulse should progressively scale down to lower levels throughout Saturday, the system appears to be saving the biggest pulse until last.

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The final stages in the long-enduring lifecycle of an East Coast low are set to play out over the southern Tasman Sea this weekend. Photo: Coastalwatch Plus member Pete20.

The final stages in the long-enduring lifecycle of an East Coast low are set to play out over the southern Tasman Sea this weekend. Photo: Coastalwatch Plus member Pete20.

  • The re-intensification of a complex ECL east of Tasmania over the next 48 hours sets up a broad belt of SSE gales acorss the far southern Tasman Sea.
  • A subsequent rising trend in mid period SSE groundswell commences throughout Sunday, building to 3 to 5ft during the day and on to a larger 5 to 8ft across south facing breaks during the afternoon.
  • The bulk of the swell peaks on Monday morning in the 6 to 8ft plus range for most of the day.
  • Early SW winds will see the best of conditons before winds swing SSE during the afternoon.
  • Tuesday morning continues to see large surf running in the 6ft range across southern exposures preceding a steady decline setting in throughout the day.

Overview
East Coast Low’s are just about always highly conducive to powerful and often good quality surf, and this one is no exception. Although the ECL has to date remained a relatively moderate strength, loosely organised system only capable of mid to large surf, that’s all about to change as the system consolidates over the southern Tasman Sea over the course of the weekend. The ECL, currently positioned some 500 nautical miles southeast of Sydney, is forecast to slowly retrograde (move east to west) and intensify as it heads towards Tasmania, setting up a broad SE to SSE fetch in conjunction with a near-stationary high pressure system hovering southwest of Tasmania.

Friday afternoon's MSLP chart shows a new low pressure centre within the complex ECL beginning to re-intensify. Source: BOM.

Friday afternoon's MSLP chart shows a new low pressure centre within the complex ECL beginning to re-intensify. Source: BOM.

The Wave Tracker depicts surface winds, showing an extensive, gale force SSE fetch wrapping around the low's western flank on Saturday afternoon.

The Wave Tracker depicts surface winds, showing an extensive, gale force SSE fetch wrapping around the low's western flank on Saturday afternoon.

This gale force fetch initially sets up across the low’s southern quadrant, but gradually reorients to the system’s western flank as the low adopts a slow, clockwise track, taking it north and then northeast, back towards it’s original (current) position. The net effect is a sustained period of SSE gales working upon the same area of ocean for over 24 hours. Further, a captured fetch is likely to occurs over this time frame, whereby the strongest swell producing winds move in the same direction and at the same speed as the swell being generated. This is projected to heavily compound the size of the deepwater swell in a short time frame; driving maximum significant wave heights to peaks of 20ft off Tasmania’s east coast on Sunday morning.

The end result is a steep building trend in surf-heights throughout Sunday; picking up to heavy 5 to 8ft levels across south facing breaks under fresh southerly winds during the afternoon. The bulk of the resulting mid-period SSE groundswell should be evident at 6 to 8ft plus levels across Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast early on Monday, with early inshore SW winds offering up an opportunity to get amongst some big, clean surf across the region before winds swing SSE into the afternoon. Although the SSE groundswell is projected to spread up the mid and northern NSW coasts at solid levels from Monday to Wednesday next week, it’s oblique exposure to the fetch should translate into slightly diluted version of the swell; mostly ranging from 3 to 6ft plus across the region with size depending on exposure. Stay tuned to Monday’s detailed forecast for updates.


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