Goodbye La Niña...for now

Craig Brokensha picture
Craig Brokensha (Craig)
Swellnet Analysis

With the signal weakening in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, La Niña has officially come to an end.

That 'signal' being cooler water over the eastern Pacific and warmer water to the west. Currently, the sea surface temperatures are warming in the east, while below the surface, a pool of warm water is pushing from west to east, quelling the source of deeper cool water that was being upwelled through spring and summer.

We're now expecting a few months of neutral conditions, however, there's a 50% chance we'll see a double-dip La Niña developing through spring.

With the signal weakening in the Pacific this doesn't mean the swell potential for the East Coast (the biggest benefactor of La Niña) is done for.

In fact, the opposite is true. Over the coming months, warm water in the Coral Sea is due to feed south into the Tasman Sea owing to the East Australian Current. Meanwhile, over in the Indian Ocean we've got an even more pronounced pool of warm water that's flowing down the Western Australian coast via the Leeuwin Current.

Current sea surface temperature anomaly surrounding Australia. Note the very warm Leewuin Current off WA and East Australian Current off the East Coast.

This is where things get interesting. During the autumn and winter months, cold air (from southern latitudes) is projected further north, where it meets warm water, providing the catalyst for cyclogenesis. These mid-latitude systems are better suited to the East Coast, as in the southern states they bring close-range, windy swells which fade by the time conditions improve. Let's hope we see a good mix of proper Southern Ocean frontal activity mixed in with the expected mid-latitude lows. This is more likely into the winter months.

For the East Coast, cyclongenesis is much more ideal, with East Coast Lows, Tasman Lows and other variations providing plenty of quality surf, much like last year. That is if you fall north of the low's axis. Any location to the south will simply get battered by gale-force onshore winds, storm surf and heavy rain.

A cold air mass projecting north-east towards the continent, into warm waters. Forecast for Tuesday the 6th of April.

Over the next couple of weeks the main impact on our local weather and surf will be the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), that being the wave of increased tropical activity that impacts Australia during summer and autumn.

The MJO is currently strengthening and moving across our north, bringing an increase in tropical instability, and this will be the catalyst for the low forming in the Coral Sea off the Queensland coast through Friday.

It looks like we'll see a pattern of supporting highs sliding through the Tasman Sea, supporting any troughs/lows that develop, thereby producing plenty of easterly swell for south-east Queensland and northern NSW. Depending on where the low tracks, southern NSW will pick up a bit of size though onshore winds will be an issue.

The southern states will see those funky mid-latitude lows messing with local winds and conditions while also bringing close-range swell energy, mixed with pulses of groundswell.

For a more up-to-date run down of the outlook for the coming months, tune in to the regional Forecaster Notes.

Comments

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 5:02pm

No, please no. No overseas travel, especially the old faithful Indo, and a double dip into La Nina is a shocker for us in some parts of the southern states. The weak swells and easterlies we're getting at the moment are bad enough but to have a possible repeat so soon, no. Hoping late Autumn and winter are kinder.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 5:09pm

La Nina may be officially over but it's still Gods piss pot here.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 5:12pm

Glad La Nina has filled up my water tanks, glad it's going so I can build a new deck.

Simon Ozzie's picture
Simon Ozzie's picture
Simon Ozzie Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 5:29pm

The covid global reset has not only reset the global economies but mother nature as well :)

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 6:19pm

Craig, how does the tropical cyclone forming between NW Oz and Indo fit into the picture? They're fairly rare I think.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 6:21pm

That's the combination of the MJO and warm water up there. 

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 6:25pm

Cheers. It's interesting to follow its affect on the trades in Indo over the next week. They go from SE to NW fairly rapidly. So much to learn about the weather. So little time.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 6:50pm

Also looks like with all the warm water up there into winter we'll be heading into a negative IOD mode, which should see lighter winds and not the normal strength trades, espcially across the Ments and Sumatra. Aghh, one can only dream,

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:39pm

Whyyoudodis!?

dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope's picture
dawnperiscope Friday, 2 Apr 2021 at 10:02am

Is there an opportunity to bring out other strange words like Fujiwhara?

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 6:40pm

I just get up each day and see what Huey's served up then act accordingly.

Life's too short to worry/speculate about things you can't control.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:41pm

I like to go on a surf forecasting website, create an account, log in, and tell people life's too short to worry about surf forecasting.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:56pm

Couldn't give a fuck about the forecasts on this site fella. Not a subscriber so don't have access to them anyway.

Like most older crew I learnt to interpret freely available weather data for my local area well before websites like this were around. I also live walking distance to where I surf most of the time so no need for advance planning.

I just come on here for the stories, surf clips, comments etc. but thanks sincerely for your concern.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:12pm

Me too mate I just don't feel the need to point it out, not concerned.
Have a great Easter!

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:15pm

You too mate.

I just reckon a lot of crew over froth on forecasts but, hey, thats their trip so good on em'.

Glad we worked that out!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 10:40pm

Absolutely, hype on mediocre swells these days is ridiculous. 3ft get the ski out!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:20pm

Happy Easter to both you guys and everyone else!

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 10:31am

I hear ya Ringmaster.. nothing like the morning surf check (that I’m just about to do) , but I’ve also found reading the swell forecast from a range of these sites is helpful to know what time of day it’s gonna happen & the period/strength.. could be small at 7am when you look, but by 9 it’s pumping!

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021 at 8:52am

Not to mention the correlation between the forecast swell and the forecast crowds.

lampy's picture
lampy's picture
lampy Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:07pm

Seriously warm water off the SW corner of WA at the moment. Multiple reports of tropical species being caught off cape Nat

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:22pm

23° inshore and warmer out to sea, balmy!

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 10:26am

Yep and even a whale shark spotted a few weeks ago off Rockingham!

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 7:16pm

BOM Interactive Weather and Wave Forecast map showing a nice lil low dragging down the coast next Tuesdayish.

There's a good chance it will show something completely different tomorrow.

Supafreak's picture
Supafreak's picture
Supafreak Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:02pm

Tweed looking to get another 175 mills on Monday Tuesday , gods piss pot sounds about right freeride

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:29pm

Thats actually Joe Larkin's (RIP) term for Byron Bay.

they used to call it Gods piss pot because it rained so much.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 10:39pm

Been dry at Belongil many a time watching it piss down over the point, odd place.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 8:57pm

21/22 sounds like it’s going to be wet. Hope these storm banks fix themselves before winter on the central coast before the offshores become more consistent.... hey Craig what swell/wind is best to push the sand back? East?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 9:23pm

Each location differs but it's more so smaller, persistent swells that fill the sand slowly back in.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... Friday, 2 Apr 2021 at 6:34am

Cheers

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Friday, 2 Apr 2021 at 9:54am

It’s been a while since the banks were good up there, but at least with last winter’s storms it took all the build up off the beach. The potential is there.

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 10:22am

Banks? What’s that? Over here (Mandurah region WA) we haven’t seen decent sandbanks at the beach breaks in many years... unlike the East coast points, we need a series of big winter swells to mess them up.

Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement's picture
Redmond Clement Thursday, 1 Apr 2021 at 10:51pm

Scoffing rather than frothing from me lately. Love your articles Craig.

benjis babe's picture
benjis babe's picture
benjis babe Friday, 2 Apr 2021 at 7:31am

how's the rain forecast for sun/ mon on sunny coast....looks like that low is sitting right on top of us..

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 2 Apr 2021 at 1:52pm

Depends on how quick the low moves, Sunday not so much until the evening but Monday for sure.

Ardy's picture
Ardy's picture
Ardy Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 7:21am

6 am Sunday raining, not heavy but non stop

scott.kempton's picture
scott.kempton's picture
scott.kempton Saturday, 3 Apr 2021 at 9:07am

You can't beat the forecasting when you can plan your weeks work ahead and know when it's time not to book jobs in and time to get work done

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky Saturday, 3 Apr 2021 at 12:35pm

Great article Craig. So Craig RE: West Oz over the next few months. Wouldn’t these potential mid-latitude lows cause any good groundswells from Southern Ocean frontal swells to be ruined by onshores? (Especially up the coast at Mandurah & Perth).

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Saturday, 3 Apr 2021 at 4:36pm

Yep they will.

trevbucky's picture
trevbucky's picture
trevbucky Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 10:17am

Noooooo!...

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Saturday, 3 Apr 2021 at 6:03pm

Have you noticed that cyclone forming near Exmouth next thursday? Exmouth might be in trouble...especially due to all the tourists there at the moment...but there might be waves off it im hoping

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 2:02pm

La Nina might be officially over but it won't stop raining.

pretty grim over Easter.

Pngy's picture
Pngy's picture
Pngy Sunday, 4 Apr 2021 at 3:24pm

Hey Craig, RE the southern states, do these mid latitude lows you mention mean that you’re expecting a similar winter to last year?

Or was last year quite different from your POV? My experience was smaller swells, more easterly winds and warmer weather than usual?

Happy Easter mate!

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021 at 1:08pm

Last year there were lots of westerly swells, I don't think this will be the case with a return to SW energy but the mid-latitude lows will bring varying winds from N/NE ahead of them and then S'ly behind them. We'll see how it plays out.

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021 at 1:04pm

1400mm+ at Ballina airport since the beginning of December.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 6 Apr 2021 at 1:08pm

Relentless.

Blingas's picture
Blingas's picture
Blingas Thursday, 8 Apr 2021 at 8:09pm

Had a surf today in SA was 31 degrees and warm... bit strange for autumn

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:35pm

Regarding the occurrence of double-dip La Niña's following the first year, here's an interesting chart released by NOAA..

What happened after the first year of La Niña

With the strength of the recent Niña, odds are weighted towards a double-dip.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 2:59pm

Major pattern change now ahead.

Good-bye to this Nina for at least 3 months.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 9 Apr 2021 at 3:05pm

Yep, bring on the weekend's cold air.