Forecast: Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
The Quiksilver Pro is done, Kirra pumped, and autumn has kicked into gear across the southern states.
As we speak, large windy surf is battering the south-east corner of the country with Tasmania and Victoria bearing the brunt.
This is a result of a strong node of the Long Wave Trough passing across the region and we're set to see another strong node move in during the opening days of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach waiting period.
The Long Wave Trough is an upper atmospheric wave that spins west to east (clockwise) around the South Pole, influencing surface weather. The wave has various intensifications or nodes, and when a node is focussed across a region, frontal activity will follow, projecting up towards it (see image below).
When a strong node sits over Victoria, we can expect Southern Ocean storms to project up under the country and into South Australia. If the node is positioned further east, the frontal activity will be more focussed into Tasmania and Victoria.
Looking at the long-range forecasts for the Rip Curl Pro we can see that a node is expected to strengthen through the Great Australian Bight early next week, moving slowly towards Victoria through the end of the week.
This will initally direct a flurry of slow moving frontal activity up through the Bight and Victoria's western swell window, more favourably into its south-western swell window later week.
In short this signals swell for the first half of the waiting period, building through day two (Thursday), peaking day three (Easter Friday) and then slowly easing into the weekend.
Wednesday, day one of the waiting period is looking small and clean with a mid-period SW swell easing back from the 2ft range. A likely lay day.
Thursday will start small to tiny but through the afternoon and more so later in the day we should start seeing a mix of building W/SW groundswell and windswell from the first Southern Ocean storms falling under the influence of the Long Wave Trough.
Winds will strengthen from the west as the swell builds, so a late start is unlikely, with Easter Friday looking to the be first day of competition with large levels of W/SW swell in the 6ft range under gusty westerly winds.
Easing surf with favourable winds over the Easter weekend should see competition run both Saturday and Sunday, and more than likely Monday as the swell becomes a touch smaller.
Beyond this the outlook is uncertain, but we'll provide updates in the comments section below.