The Tropical March Begins
Over the coming fortnight, the formation of at least one - if not a couple - swell-producing systems looks almost certain in the Coral and Tasman Seas.
The catalyst for the storms will be increasing tropical activity to our east-northeast into the end of the month.
The increased convection and instability will be linked to the strengthening Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is, in effect, a wave of increased tropical activity and convection that propagates east along the equator.
Also, sea surface temperatures are primed in the Coral Sea for the formation of a tropical cyclone (well above the required 26.5C), as well as a lack of strong upper atmospheric winds (that create wind shear) forecast for the start of March.
This bodes well for northern NSW and south-east Queensland surfers in regards to swell potential, but of greater interest is what's taking place in the Tasman Sea.
The East Australian Current has been sending significant plumes of warm water down the East Coast towards southern NSW.
Sea surface temperatures in the middle of the EAC are now 26-27°C off of Seal Rocks, with water temperatures off Jervis Bay coming in around 25°C - which is 2-3°C above average.
Warm water brings with it stored potential energy which enhances and feeds into any instability that forms adjacent to the coast or offshore. Take for example the flooding downpours seen across the Shoalhaven region a fortnight ago, and the Northern Beaches earlier this week.
While it's too early to forecast the track or movement of any potential tropical cyclone/storm from the Coral Sea, the leading global forecast models are in general agreement regarding the movement of any tropical disturbance that may form, plotting a southward path towards the Tasman Sea.
A couple of pools of cold air are also forecast to be transported up from the Southern Ocean, across the south-east of the country during the start of March. These will sit above the warm water signal sitting off the southern NSW coast and could be the catalyst for the development of a more significant low.
There's no guarantee of great waves or large swell, or even the development of such a low in the Tasman Sea, but we'll be entering an unstable and dynamic period with plenty of potential thanks to the combination of warm, unstable air and cooler air aloft.
So be prepared to ride the long-range model forecast fluctuations and keep an eye on the regional Forecaster Notes over the coming weeks.