Winter 2019 recap

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

And just like that, the seasons have turned!

With winter gone we can now look forward to longer days, warm northerly winds, and a deterioration in surf quality. Though it seems that last point is a way off, as most regions have had a good start to spring with offshore winds and swell from the right directions.

Looking back on the winter that was, and after a slow start to the season, which followed on from an appalling autumn, the East Coast has had one of the better runs of surf and favourable winds for the past few years. The Mid North Coast was one region that had some semblance of normality through autumn and it continued its stellar run magnifying any swell on offer.

The swells kicked off with an out of season E/NE groundswell that arrived in the back end of June. It wasn't just the direction that surprised, but the duration and spread too: everywhere from the Sunshine Coast to the Victorian border saw waves between 4'-8' for the better part of a week. Though not unheard of, it was a rare event.

Sydney on the pump // Craig Brokensha

Aside from swell, the story in the north was sand loss, with many of the right points denuded on their lee sides, a result of prolonged north winds through autumn shutting down the sand transport system.

Following the east swell a series of typical south swells brushed the coast beginning in late July moving the sand to the north again. Since then, a constant progression of frontal systems moving up the Tasman Sea, plus lows spawning off the East Coast, have produced excellent waves across the points.

Newcastle hasn't stopped pumping and if we take one look at the Mean Sea Level Pressure and wind anomalies (difference from the long-term climatological mean) for the month of August, it all points north.

We can see that there was a large low pressure anomaly positioned south-east of New Zealand, with stronger than normal SW winds aimed from below Tasmania, north-east into the Tasman Sea and further afield. This provided endless swells for Cloudbreak and Teahupoo, while also fairing well across Tasmania's sheltered South Arm and East Coast. There have been a handful of windy point days and quality options at the marquee breaks when winds shifted back offshore.

Both Victoria and South Australia had great autumn seasons and it felt like things were shaping up for a bumper winter, however it didn't eventuate.

The Surf Coast had persistent offshore winds from the western quadrant and usually some sort of swell on offer. It never went flat. Yet most of the swell-generating storms sat too far north to produce anything major so a steady diet of mid-size swells kept the punters happy, though not if you like the big stuff. Testament to this is the Bells Beach 50 Year Storm which, despite having its size threshhold lowered, still didn't get the opportunity to run.

The wind anomaly from July paints this picture clearly, with a positive westerly wind bias shown under the country, through Victoria's swell window. South Australia has suffered the same pattern, though with the swells not overpowering the exposed beaches there have at least been plenty of quality days going down around Victor Harbor. The Mid Coast has been hit and miss but generally below average until the past week.

Western Australia has gone through big ebbs and flows. Stormy, large and onshore for a week and then pumping at others times when the storms stayed at arms length from the continent. There have been some standout windy paddle days across the deepwater reefs, and with all the strong fronal activity, Indonesia has also reaped the benefits as has the North West. Perth and Mandurah have had more than their fair share of swells along with more favourable winds, with a wave on offer most days through winter.

Western Australian perfection // Peter Jovic

Looking at the coming weeks and it looks like most of the country will continue to receive quality swells as the remnants of winter push into early spring, and we'll keep an eye on any possible significant developments following the Sudden Stratospheric Warming event last week.

On a final note, those who've been to the Mentawais the last month would have noticed the persistent and fresh S/SE winds across the region, linked to a negative Indian Ocean Dipole mode. This can also clearly be seen in the anomaly chart below.

Comments

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 2:38pm

Funnily enough Craig, it was the swell from the E'ly quadrant at the end of June/ beginning of July which actually moved sand into position.

From there, the more normal S'ly swell regime has maintained the flow.

July/August excellent months. Taken together as June/July/August it was pretty good.

So far, as a totality the first week of Spring has been better than anything we got during Autumn.

Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 3:12pm

Maldives have reported one of best seasons in recent memory for SE - ESE trade swells. East facing breaks like Kandooma have been pumping as a result of non-stop trade swell. The SE winds blowing off the WA coast have a long fetch aimed at Maldives - but this wind field extended north affecting all the way to Ments (but not Banyaks)! Everyone in Ments been surfing lefts for months to get away from wind
However Maldives have also suffered strong southerlies at times in July and August so a lot of the lefts (Lohis etc) and SW facing breaks in Central Atolls have also been negatively affected. Best Waves in Maldives have been east facing rights getting most of ESE swell and offshore in S-SW winds

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 7:31pm

From my completely unscientific observations (watching Instagram) it does look like lohis and cokes areas have had a shocking season for wind.

Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx's picture
Chris Buykx commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 9:41am

Yes Cokes & Chickens face SW which is good for being a swell magnet but Southerly winds have been messing with it. Same for the lefts like Lohis - onshores messed with most of July and August. North Male Atolls was manly about Sultans, Ninjas and Inside jails to get out of wind.
Kandooma has been all time and non stop. Machines and F1s have also been on the pump. Some great footage around of Shane and Jackson Dorian at those waves in July August

saltman's picture
saltman's picture
saltman commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 9:40am

Interesting it’s been called a great season for Maldives
A friend spent a week at Kandooma- nothing over 2ft
So there are still chances of getting skunked

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 5:40pm

Thought it was a ripper of a winter in Sydney and was welcome after Autumn.
Looking fwd to more summer-like fun and keep ma fingers crossed our recent good luck continues - so far so good

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 6:13pm

On the whole, 2019 has been a great year on the Tweed Coast. Pockets of excellent interspersed with stacks of workable periods; we've been able to surf at least couple of times every week (if not many more) if you're prepared to do a bit o' scouting. And that's with the coast's primary point break out of action for almost the entire time. (which normally soaks up most of the crowds).

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 6:06am

Hha ha, yeah, it was shithouse at "The primary point break" when I was over in July. Guys were going left into the rocks which pretty much sums it up. I had a pretty epic week though, surfing everywhere between Fingal and Byron. Great banks on the beaches.

NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 12:55pm

Yip agreed

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 7:26pm

No complaints from the MNC...it's been a plentiful couple of months.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 7:46pm

I totally agree with Craig's evaluation of Vicco. Autumn showed so much promise but what a let down the following months were, moments of classic Southern Australia conditions but too few and far between for my liking. At least this year I've been stacking some more acorns away due to the lackluster season.

Now, I'm looking forward to warmer water again......

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:23am

Surf conditions aside, yesterday I had exactly the same thought, 'Can't wait for the warm weather to arrive'.

Then this morning I struggled to get a space in the top carpark and I cursed the coming summer.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:56am

Imagine if there was a place with perpetually warm weather , consistent swell , tasty food , beautiful vistas , exotic culture , dependent and complementary winds , cheap living and perfectly foiled reefs .

I’m feeling the urge to blow the dust off the passport.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 9:14am

There's quite a few out there that meet that description.

Unfortunately in 2019 they're all packed to the gills.

NickT's picture
NickT's picture
NickT commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 12:56pm

Not all of them! There are still a few spots around

brainiac's picture
brainiac's picture
brainiac commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 7:50pm

yep theres been waves down here, but the reality was a fairly shitty winter for real quality in Vicco.

Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone's picture
Nick Bone commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 7:55pm

East coast vic winter - one day here and there of offshore. offshore will be 25 knot plus.

I am the bone

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 8:07pm

Surely you got something today NB?

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:46pm

It has been a truly shit winter here agreed. The coming forecast doesn't hold much promise either.

willibutler's picture
willibutler's picture
willibutler commented Thursday, 5 Sep 2019 at 10:44pm

anyone got any theories for the erosion on some of the western corners of the beaches on the surf coast

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 4:20am

And possibly the best winter in my 18 years in Wellington. So many solid SSW swells - the same ones Craig mentioned favouring Fiji and Tahiti - and long duration, too.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 6:03am

^ I agree. Most people round here are calling it the best winter for at least 20 years.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 6:59am

How good, windy with the swells in NZ or good with the clearing fronts? And yep for me personally in and around Sydney, the best winter in years.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:02am

Also for the NZ and South Pacific folk, that's a significant negative anomaly.. -16hPa

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 7:11am

Craig, all too often the sizey SSW swells come with dying southerly winds and wonky conditions, then howling northerlies the day after.

This winter, we've had lots of light wind days, or light to mod offshores, and swells that went on for 4 days or more. The last one had our reefs breaking for over a week, as the period remained 14s or above.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 2:35pm

Yeah nice IB!

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 2:33pm

Time to have a referendum on making weekends Friday & Monday. That would have helped us Tas East Coast weekend blow ins get a lot more waves this winter. I can hear the locals chuckling from here!!!

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Friday, 6 Sep 2019 at 5:55pm

Hey Craig, Gary would like to know if there some correlation with drought conditions in NSW and QLD and the winter in Vic?

Gary remembers similar winters: lots of W swells, plenty of 3ftish days but few solid SW swells, from the last time the east coast was in a long term drought.

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 6:48am

Yeah, with negative SAM events and the westerlies pushed further north, this prevents rain bearing systems to move in across the East Coast and more inland under moister easterly flows. The easterly flow is pushed further noth as well.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 9 Sep 2019 at 9:56pm

Swell and favourable winds, but can I find a sand bank within 200 kms of Sydney, (not the northern beaches) that isn't ruler straight?

That would be no.

hamishbro's picture
hamishbro's picture
hamishbro commented Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 7:51am

July and August has been an epic winter for weekend warriors on the FNC. Good swells almost every weekend. And who said winter was over just yet? It’s 6-8ft today.