Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 10th February)
Best Days: Tues/Wed/Thurs: Great waves east of Melbourne, solid at times.
Recap: Bit of a mixed bag over the weekend. Saturday remained solid east of Melbourne with set waves reported in the 5-6ft range early morning, whilst west of Melbourne size ranged from 3ft in Barwon Heads to 2ft in Torquay. Winds remained generally light and variable all day at all locations. On Sunday, an approaching front strengthened northerly winds about the coast in the morning, creating clean but blustery conditions up until the front’s arrival (around 9:30am on the Surf Coast, and 10am on the Mornington Peninsula). The afternoon was a write-off at most locations with wind gusts reaching 43kts at Aireys Inlet.
As for today, we really haven’t seen any great size across the Victorian coast despite the development of a deep low pressure system SW of Bass Strait on Sunday (although, no great surf was expected from this low anyway, due to the presence of onshore winds). Buoy data from Cape Sorell belies the actuality of what’s happening on Central Victorian beaches - sure, there was plenty of size at the buoy overnight, but the low swell period associated with this increase indicates the presence of mainly short period (and probably W/NW) energy. In fact if you plot the buoy data against hourly wind observations from Cape Sorell, you’ll see that the Hsig trend matched the wind speed trend out of the W/NW (this is a quick, useful way of estimating windswell percentage at the buoy).
Following an early drop in size this morning, we've seen a subsequent increase in swell size and period at the Sorell buoy throughout today. Given generally light winds at the Sorell weather station, we can be reasonably confident that this is mid-range groundswell associated with the backside of Sunday's developing low. Our updated forecast graphs have this swell peaking this afternoon around 3ft in Torquay and 5-6ft on the Peninsula, but we’ll have to wait and see if late afternoon surfcam observations confirm its arrival. In any case, winds are onshore so conditions aren't great.
This week (Feb 11-14)
Tuesday looks very hit and miss. The dominant factor in your decision making tools should be the wind outlook, which is being strongly influenced by a high pressure system moving south of Tasmania tonight and tomorrow. This will set up a fresh easterly pattern that will surely write off conditions along the Surf Coast (at best, a possible hour or two at dawn with lighter winds).
Therefore, the open beaches east of Melbourne will be your best bet. Today’s (supposed) swell increase will reach a peak tonight and taper off throughout the day, probably quickly due to the short lived duration of the low within our swell window. As such we should see some solid but easing surf on the Island and Peninsula in the morning, becoming more manageable by lunchtime and into the afternoon.
On Wednesday, we’ll see the arrival of a long period groundswell that began its initial development on Saturday thanks to an intense polar low well to the south of Heard Island. This low has since weakened, but has concurrently set up a strong storm track that’s expected to generate an extended period of solid groundswell that’ll occupy Victorian beaches from Wednesday thru’ Saturday and possibly beyond.
The leading edge of the first swell is due in overnight on Tuesday and should start to show at the coast throughout Wednesday morning - although maybe not at first light - building strongly late afternoon and holding its peak all day Thursday. Wave heights should reach a peak in the 6ft+ range east or Melbourne, with surf size up around the 3ft mark west of Melbourne (however winds will continue to create problems here). Expect long waits between the bigger sets.
A secondary front working on top of the pre-existing sea state later Tuesday and into Wednesday - well below WA - will set up a renewal of SW swell for late Friday and into Saturday (probably at a similar size range).
In general we are expecting a broad easterly flow to occupy the region right throughout the forecast period however there’s likely to be small windows where winds ease right back (and in the case of the Surf Coast, receive some local topographical influence and sometimes swing briefly offshore). This may open up short periods of surfable conditions for regions west of Melbourne, but as a general rule you’ll be much better aiming for other coasts this week.
Friday may also see a deepening trough across eastern Bass Strait, and if such developments happen it’ll drive strong southerly winds over the region. It’s too far out to have confidence in this right now so I’ll revisit in more detail on Wednesday.
This weekend (Feb 15-16)
The new pulse due late Friday should maintain strong SW swell for the Victorian region on Saturday, however the wind outlook is pretty funky thanks to Friday’s possible trough over eastern Bass Strait. However, swell won’t be in short supply - it seems a third front/low combo will develop in the tale end of this weather progression during Friday, bringing yet another renewal of swell to the region during Sunday. Check back on Wednesday for more of an idea on the local winds and size/timing of the swell.
Long term (Feb 17 onwards)
We’ve got plenty on our plate for the next week or so, and with no major features on the long term charts it looks like we may see an easing trend early next week as a blocking pattern develops across the swell window over the weekend. Let’s revisit all of this on Wednesday.