Victorian Surf Forecast (issued Wednesday 5th February)

thermalben's picture
thermalben started the topic in Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 8:16pm

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 5th February)
(sorry for the delay - we're down staff this week as Craig is away, so I'm squeezing in the forecast notes where I can)

Best Days: Thurs: fun beachies east of Melbourne. Fri PM/Sat: building long range groundswell with good surf just about everywhere. Next week: series of long range groundswells from Tues thru' Fri.

Recap: Gusty S’ly tending SE winds on Tuesday did zero favours for any parts of the state. Winds swung strong E’ly today, which has made a mincemeal of the surf in Torquay, but groomed the open beaches east of Melbourne quite nicely. Interesting to observe a large range in wave heights between the Torquay and Lorne cams today; the complete opposite of what we see under SW groundswells. 

This week (Feb 4-7)

Nothing of interest for Thursday, apart from the open beaches east of Melbourne if you're up for small peaky beachies. The current SE windswell will be easing and there’ll only be a small leftover groundswell for the Peninsula and Phillip Island. With fresh E/NE winds across the region, the Surf Coast will see poor conditions again but the open beaches east of Melbourne will relish in the fresh offshore breeze. If only there was a little more groundswell on offer.

Friday looks interesting on two fronts. Firstly, we’re expecting a new groundswell to push through during the day, generated by a deep low pressure located well to the SW of WA during the latter part of the weekend and early part of this week. This swell is not really expected to start showing up until after lunchtime, and with the swell likely to persist through Saturday, the largest waves on Friday will occur at the end of the day.

However we are at risk of a developing onshore breeze (SW) around this time as a weak trough migrates eastward across the region. Winds will be northerly in the morning, but the swell won’t be in the water by then so only the open beaches east of Melbourne will have any potential for an early surf. The afternoon kick should reach (a very inconsistent) 2-3ft+ along the Surf Coast but the onshore change may take the sheen off things. Keep this in mind if you’re planning a late arvo session. East of Melbourne, set waves should reach 4-6ft (although it’ll be equally inconsistent).

This weekend (Feb 8-9)

The good news is that Friday’s new swell will hang around for much of Saturday, thanks to a series of secondary fronts that wrapped/are wrapping around the remnants of the former primary low. This should maintain plenty of energy through Saturday ahead of a steady easing trend overnight into Sunday. Surf size should be in the 2-3ft+ range west of Melbourne and 4-6ft east of Melbourne (posisbly one or two bigger sets at times if we're lucky). Expect long breaks between the bigger waves due to the distant source of the swell.

Winds are the main factor to work around over the weekend. Model data has changed a little since Monday’s forecast, and we’re now expecting a deep low pressure system to intensify rapidly SW of Bass Strait during Sunday, which will swing gusty morning NW winds around to a gale-force W/SW’er, probably by the early afternoon. So Sunday looks pretty dicey. Saturday on the other hand should be pretty good. Friday's weak trough will have cleared to the east and although there is a risk of a lingering onshore in parts, I reckon it’ll straighten up from the north overall, possibly even veer north-east at times as we possibly see additional (small) pre-frontal troughs push through ahead of the main low that's expected to develop Sunday. 

Either way, Saturday is the pick of the weekend and there should be waves on all coasts. So, spread out nicely and play friendly with everyone.

Next week (Feb 10 onwards)

Sunday’s deepening low has thrown a slight currveball into the forecasting mix for the start of next week. We’ll actually have another swell approaching from the west (generated by an earlier incarnation of this same front) but it’ll be trailing behind and isn’t expected to arrive until later Monday. Sunday’s change could easily generate quite a large swell for exposed beaches but it’ll mainly be low quality short range energy, and will require some assistance from local winds on Monday if we’re to see a rapid improvement on the surface (as this low is likely to be a solitary cut off low, a synoptic offshore with any strength is currently unlikely - so the general trend of Monday will probably be ‘slowly improving’ as winds quickly abate).

In any case Monday should offer some lumpy leftover waves about the Surf Coast if you’re keen for a paddle. Otherwise, the remainder of the week looks unreal - as detailed in Monday’s forecast - due to a long progression of deep polar lows expected to occupy Victoria’s far and mid range swell windows fro,m late this week thru’ mid next week. The leading edge of the first main pulse is expected sometime Tuesday afternoon and we should see strong swell energy persisting about the coast until about Thursday or (if we’re really lucky) early Friday. At this stage winds are still a gamble but the general outlook is for a broad ridge of high pressure with moderate SE-NE winds. I’ll reevaluate all of this in more detail on Friday.

novak's picture
novak's picture
novak commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 9:55pm

thermalben wrote: Nothing of interest for Thursday.
Looks like it should be pretty straight NE in Torquay tomorrow morning according to the BOM, it's already gone NE at Aireys. Surely there should be some clean (ish) easterly peaks in the morning? Might be worth a paddle after the run we've had lately.
thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 10:27pm

(fixed up the formatting for ya)

Well, the BOM currently have "East to northeasterly 20 to 25 knots, reaching up to 30 knots offshore early in the morning". Sure, it's not far off NE but even NE is dicey - and at 20kts+ you'd be gambling pretty heavily. And, the Aireys AWS has one solitary reading from the NE - everything else since 4pm has been E/SE thru' E/NE.

If there were a decent groundswell in the mix it'd be a different story but it's mainly going to be easing SE windswell. So, to me it's nothing of interest - especially when there's a decent groundswell expected the next afternoon, holding into the following day.

That's just the way I see it anyway. I totally understand that it's a little pessimistic - which is uncharacteristic for me - but my understanding is that Vicco surfers as a rule don't enjoy peaky windswells as much as East Coast surfers do, because the coast isn't quite as well conditioned for them.

novak's picture
novak's picture
novak commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 10:41pm

I agree fading SE winds wells are less than ideal, I just get excited by any N in the wind this time of year :(

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 10:49pm

Yeah it's a fair point. The Bellarine should also be OK on the surface but it probably won't pick up anywhere near as much windswell as locations further west of Torquay.

Right now, E'ly winds are still 30kts gusting nearly 40kts at South Channel Island, however they've just gone NE at the Prom (average 38kts, gusting 43 kts!). 

This slight tweak in the wind direction also affects windswell potential on the Surf Coast - the more north of east the direction becomes, the smaller the likely size at the coast (as it dramatically shortens the fetch length).

Will be very interesting to see what happens... I love these dynamic systems. Keeps me on my toes.

novak's picture
novak's picture
novak commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 11:15pm

Looks like I might be in for a solo road trip W, since tomorrow is my only day off for the next week.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 11:17pm

How does Saturday compare to Saturday gone? I couldn't find any banks on the open beaches to hold the swell properly. Was quite raw still and a lot of closeout sets. The semi open beaches were ok though.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 11:25pm

Really? I saw plenty of photos of good banks on the open beaches last weekend (not saying where though). Just gotta sniff around. Size wise it'll probably be in a similar range. 

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 at 11:35pm

I was at a particular 15km stretch of sw-w facing open beach that usually has some of the best banks but it just wasn't doing it. Was about 5ft. I still got fun waves at about 2-3 ft but would've liked some of the bigger stuff.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Thursday, 6 Feb 2014 at 8:37pm

Copped some pretty solid poundings on Saturday on the beaches on the MP. Swell was only about 6 ft but really thick and powerful with heaps of push.. Would that have been due to long period?