South Australian Surf Forecast (issued Friday 7th February)

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thermalben started the topic in Friday, 7 Feb 2014 at 5:16pm

South Australian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 7th February)

Best Days: Mid Coast: Sat/Mon: small waves on the tide. Wed/Thurs: small clean waves.
South Coast: Sat: fun improving waves all day as the N'ly straightens out the bumps.

Recap: Tiny waves on Thursday, with moderate onshore winds down south and light variable winds on the Mid Coast. An expected new long range groundswell arrived well behind time expectations - the leading edge wasn't detected at the Cape du Couedic wave buoy until around midnight - and the resulting swell for today has been at the bottom end of forecasts expectations in the gulf (generally 1ft). However, the South Port surfcam is showing plenty of consistent lines, and (as I type) we’re only 90 mins past low tide - so there’s a reasonable chance for a tidal push towards 1-2ft later this afternoon and early evening. The sea breeze isn’t too strong either so conditions are pretty good… fingers crossed for a late session. Down south, winds are moderate to fresh onshore but the swell has kicked up since yesterday.

This weekend (Feb 8-9)

No great change to the forecast. We’re looking at mainly light variable winds early Saturday, swinging N’ly around lunch and then NW into the afternoon as a weak pre-frontal trough develops west of the gulf (ahead of a gusty SW change due in the early hours of Sunday morning). The Mid Coast will probably deliver one of those frustrating days where there are consistent lines visible all day, but it’s just too small to ride apart from a few hours either side of a tidal push (where it might reach somewhere above 1ft but smaller than 2ft). 

Victor looks like a much better option on Saturday as we’ll have an easing swell from today and an E/NE tending N’ly then NW breeze. Conditions should improve all day - so there’s no need for a quick dash at dawn - and there should be waves at most spots, anywhere from 2-3ft at Middleton through to 4ft at Waits and Goolwa.

Sunday looks tricky, but there’ll be surf. A vigorous front is expected to cross the coast very close to dawn, so although there is technically a chance for a brief window of W/NW winds at Victor, it’s a gamble as to whether you’ll get any surfable time before it arrives and blows things out. Surf size will be a little smaller in the morning (than Saturday) although a late afternoon kick is expected, originating from the low as it clears the swell shadow of Kangaroo Island.

Sunday’s early front will also have generated a reasonable, but narrowly focused SW groundswell that should push up some bumpy 2ft sets into the gulf for the afternoon session. If wind strength gets higher than currently modelled (~20kts) in the morning, this figure will increase (say, 2-3ft) but for now we can expect some small fun bumpy waves with easing S/SW winds across the region (just enough to maintain the chop).

Next week (Feb 10-14)

As Sunday’s front clears to the east, a high will ridge in from the west, setting up camp south of Kangaroo Island and directing fresh SE winds across the region on Monday. There’ll be a small lingering line of SW groundswell in the gulf, again hovering in that frustrating 1-2ft range on the more favourable parts of the tide (and much smaller at all other times). Still, there should be something surfable on the Mid for the grommets and long boarders, and it’ll be clean in the morning. Onshore winds will destroy the surf down south.

Beyond this, and we’ve got some great swell prospects for the middle to latter part of next week - however the wind forecast is a little funky thanks to a broad trough of low pressure expected to occupy much of mainland Australia, and a series of fronts pushing up from polar latitudes. Normally, at this time of year we generally see a slow moving high in the Bight (with predictable gusty SE winds for the most part), but next week will see two major high pressure cells to the south-east of Tasmania, and west/south-west of Western Australia, with a thin ridge of high pressure extending from south of WA to south of Tasmania.

But, this is not a bad thing - in general the synoptic flow should hold from the eastern quadrant, probably tending more SE later in the week as we return to a seasonally average pattern.

As for swell, an intense polar low is developing south of Heard Island at the moment, and its expected to track slowly towards Australasian waters over the coming days. A series of secondary fronts wrapping around the low will building upon the pre-existing sea state, of which the leading edge of the first swell is due to arrive sometime around lunch/early afternoon on Tuesday

We should see a corresponding increase in new swell very late in the day across most locations, however the biggest and best waves will occur on Wednesday and Thursday as the bulk energy moves through the region. This event probably won’t do a lot for the Mid (surprise surprise!) but there should be at least small clean lines of swell. This swell will be much better utilised at various country locales, where we could see set waves in the 6-8ft range.

Anyway, let’s take another pass on this in Monday’s notes when we should have a better idea as to the local airstream next week. But right now Wed/Thurs are looking pretty good for some quality summer groundswell throughout South Australia.