Forecaster Blog: Major E swell Brewing for Late January
COASTALWATCH | FORECASTER BLOG
Issued Thursday, 25 January 2018
It’s about now that you might be regretting going a bit hard on the Christmas pudding – and a bit soft on the fitness over the holiday period. There’s now increasing confidence a large and powerful easterly groundswell will impact the entire East Coast over the course of next week, providing days of solid surf ranging from physically demanding to straight up life-threatening.
The prospective source of this event is a tropical low/ cyclone forecast to develop over the Coral Sea this weekend, before transitioning into a deep, sub-tropical storm over the northern Tasman early next week. These events follow the onset of the Australian monsoon across the tropical north over the past week; precipitated by the eastward migration of an MJO event over the maritime continent. As the MJO moves further eastward into the western Pacific this weekend a deepening tropical low is widely projected to drift east/ southeast, out towards New Caledonia.
In it’s early stages the low combines with a large, slow moving high over New Zealand to establish a strengthening easterly tradewind belt throughout our easterly swell window; broad enough to trigger a building trend in easterly swell across the entire Eastern Seaboard early next week. However, the key period in swell-production is forecast to occur early next week. Based on GFS model runs, the low will curve poleward and steadily intensify as it undergoes extratropical transition over the north-eastern Tasman Sea on Monday and Tuesday; contributing to a stronger belt of easterly gales in conjunction with the aforementioned high, now positioned just east of NZ:
If this comes to fruition, we’ll see maximum significant wave-heights peaking in the order of 30 to 35ft just east of the 160E meridian; close enough to spawn a heavy round of E swell for the entire East Coast mid-next week:
While a building trend in E swell appears a virtual certainty, the various models differ with respect to the speed of the low’s development, it’s forecast location and projected wind-speeds through the height of its lifecycle. Given the GFS scenario above is at the most aggressive end of the scale, we may well see the forecast E swell coming down in height and period over the next few days. Then again, if the low develops closer to the coast as some models suggest, it could be bigger.
Southern Queensland and northern NSW
Even at this early stage, the stars are clearly aligning for the region’s points and bays next week. The swell’s arrival is projected to coincide with a firming high pressure ridge; facilitating a SSE to SE wind-regime as the bulk of the E groundswell starts to kick in on Wednesday and Thursday. This should be proceeded by a slower building trend in mid-sized E swell, but stay tuned to Friday’s detailed update for specifics.
Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast
At this point the outlook for more southern locations isn’t so flash. The arrival of a cold front along the coast late on Tuesday is forecast to lead in a firm ridge extending from a large high over the Bight. This feature is projected to instate a moderate to strong S to SE airflow across the coast; kicking in just in time for the E swell’s arrival on Wednesday and Thursday. This of course doesn’t mean there won’t be some good or even epic conditions to be had over the course of this event, so stay tuned to the detailed forecast for what’s to come over the course of next week.
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