Forecaster Blog: Outlook for the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks

9 Mar 2016 8 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

FORECAST | Forecaster Blog

Quiksilver Pro Outlook

Not unlike 2015, the World Surf League has managed to schedule in the Quiksilver Pro during a relatively subdued phase in swell-activity this year. Both January and more notably February saw a virtual non-stop run of easterly groundswell that came compliments of several tropical cyclones; the first being TC Ula in January, followed by the long enduring TC Winston and the much shorter-lived TC Tatiana in February. This relatively early season activity saw pumping surf across southern Queensland – pretty much lasting right up until February 29 before finally fading to much lower levels into the first days of March.

SEE ALSO: The Picks, Coastalwatch Legends Pick The World Tour & Quiksilver Pro Winners

The prospect of more freight training tubes running down the Snapper to Kirra stretch look increasingly remote during the Quiksilver Pro. Photo: CW Plus member KyleOnion.

The prospect of more freight training tubes running down the Snapper to Kirra stretch look increasingly remote during the Quiksilver Pro. Photo: CW Plus member KyleOnion.

Since then we’ve seen a more typical run of small-scale easterly trade wind swell producing mediocre 2ft surf across the region – and that’s pretty much what’s on the menu for the opening days of the Quiksilver Pro. Short period easterly swell persisted at low levels through the first few days of the waiting period preceding an upswing in energy into Sunday and early to mid next week.

Over the next few days we continue to see short-period E swell emanating from a weak easterly trade wind belt, supported by a high pressure system now located over the eastern Tasman Sea. As the high migrates further east across New Zealand through the second half of the week a moderate strength, 15 to 20 knot easterly fetch remains in place over the southern Coral Sea as the broad subtropical ridge interacts with a slow moving surface trough southwest of New Caledonia.

SEE ALSO: The 2016 Debutants - Freestone, Cathels  & Callinan

Not much to see here folks. A weak high pressure ridge maintains the 2ft status quo at Snapper Rocks for the opening days of the Quiksilver Pro. Source BOM.

Not much to see here folks. A weak high pressure ridge maintains the 2ft status quo at Snapper Rocks for the opening days of the Quiksilver Pro. Source BOM.

Although latest GFS runs pick up a brief strengthening of the fetch about 400nm offshore on Wednesday, it’s forecast to settle again on Thursday – so any uptick in E swell during Thursday/ Friday is only anticipated to be minor. The good news is a more substantial invigoration of the trade wind belt towards 20 to 30 knots is likely from Friday onwards. This is linked to the formation of a tropical depression along the surface trough as it moves south of New Caledonia, contributing to several days of stronger winds offshore.

The major computer models are now well aligned on this; indicating the easterly fetch will persist at 20 to 30 knots throughout the weekend and early next week. A subsequent uptick in E trade wind swell should be well and truly visible by Sunday; generating stronger 2 to 3ft sets at Snapper, with a further push likely during the afternoon. For now, the GFS scenario points to a peak of 3 to 4ft lasting from Monday right through to Wednesday – but this is contingent on how the tropical depression and associated fetch develop later in the outlook period.

Corresponding ECMWF runs show a marked weakening of the fetch early to mid next week – in turn pointing to a peak around Monday/ Tuesday followed by a drop in size back towards the 2ft plus mark from Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 March. Further, both GFS and EC model runs pick up a southward shift in the orientation of the fetch to southern Queensland – and this should manifest as a subtle shift in swell direction to the ESE early to mid next week. Although less reliable, the BOM’s ACCESS model suggests the low will remain in place south of New Caledonia early to mid next week; speculatively ramping back up to 20 to 30kts or more on Tuesday/ Wednesday – and this leaves the door open to a renewed push in E swell mid to late next week.

Latest GFS model runs depict a moderate easterly fetch persisting across the southern Coral Sea and northeast Tasman early next week - presenting scope for a continued run of small to mid-range E swell into the second half of the waiting period.

Latest GFS model runs depict a moderate easterly fetch persisting across the southern Coral Sea and northeast Tasman early next week - presenting scope for a continued run of small to mid-range E swell into the second half of the waiting period.

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