Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and surrounds forecast (Tue 25th Feb)

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Craig started the topic in Tuesday, 25 Feb 2014 at 4:59pm

Fiji, New Caledonia and surrounds forecast by Craig Brokensha (issued Tuesday 25th February)

Best days: Thursday, Friday, Saturday morning

This week (Feb 25 - 28)

We're right on the edge of the arrival of a couple of strong and powerful S/SW groundswell pulses.

An initial pulse due tomorrow was generated over the weekend by an intense mid-latitude low that moved east and across Tassie, aiming a short-lived fetch of SW gales towards the Fiji region.

Of greater importance was a much stronger and broader polar front that moved in quickly behind the low, pushing from below Tassie up towards New Zealand (one of our prime swell windows) while generating a broad fetch of W/SW gales (pictured right).

This has produced a larger pulse of S/SW groundswell that should arrive Thursday and peak in the 5-6ft range at exposed spots, but swell magnets like Cloudbreak should see 8ft bomb sets. Samoa will see half to one third the size as the swell loses energy to the islands scattered to its south-west. Tonga on the other hand should pick up a bit more size, coming in at a very inconsistent 3-4ft at exposed spots.

A third frontal system moved in quickly behind this second polar front and while it was a touch stronger, it was short-lived and also on a less favourable track, moving more west to east (pictured right).

Still this has generated a secondary pulse of large S/SW groundswell for Friday to a similar size ahead of a steady drop through Saturday.

Gradually strengthening SE trades are expected across Fiji and New Cal over the coming days as a tropical low deepens in the Fiji region against a strong high moving into the Tasman Sea. This will leave protected breaks with the cleanest conditions while more exposed locations will be blown out.

This weekend onwards (Mar 1 onwards)

The forecast from the weekend into next week will be highly influenced by the tropical low that's expected to hang in the Fiji region and slow intensity.

Current model guidance is shifting erratically with some global forecast models indicating the low will develop into a tropical cyclone over the weekend and then drift south-east into the middle of next week.

Other models have the system stalling longer and then drifting slowly south, while the latest GFS update has the system failing to reach cyclone strength and moving away from Fiji early next week.

If this system does develop into a tropical cyclone it's likely to produce large levels of SE swell for the southern coasts of Fiji and eastern coast of New Cal as a fetch of gale-force winds are setup between the strong high in the Tasman Sea. Also Tonga and Samoa will see large levels of NW swell from the northern flank of the cyclone.

If this doesn't happen, we're still due to receive some very inconsistent but medium sized S/SW groundswell through next week from the Southern Ocean, so check back here on Thursday for the latest on this.