Analysing Summer 22/23
Following one of the best springs in recent memory on the East Coast, the verdict is in for the summer that followed. Persistent energy from the east along with no major bank-busting swells made for a great summer of surf.
After three years of La Niña induced weather, the weakening signal in the Pacific Ocean allowed inshore waters to clear up while still providing plentiful swells but from more further afield.
It wasn't a case of feast or famine, rather pacing one's self for the long game.
Other beneficiaries were the southern states with the blocking high pressure associated with the past three Niña's loosening its grip along with some quality swell producing systems into February.
Below is the Mean Sea Level Pressure anomaly chart (difference from the long-term average) for the past three months and like the past couple of summers, a clear (but weaker) La Niña signal can be seen. That being lower than normal pressure in the Coral Sea but positioned a little more east, as well as higher than normal pressure to the south-east of New Zealand. The interaction of the low and high produced a persistent stream of easterly winds (and consequently swell), strengthening at times with the deepening of tropical depressions.
This high pressure anomaly didn't extend further west like past summers, with a low pressure anomaly taking its place to the south of Western Australia.
I've posted the anomaly chart from 2021/22 for comparison and one can see the summer just passed was similar in setup for the East Coast but with weaker high/low pressure anomalies.
With tropical depressions and lows forming further away to the east, we saw persistent small to moderate sized easterly trade-swells. There were still a few larger swells in the mix thanks to deepening, southward tracking tropical lows at the start of December and over the New Year's period, followed by the Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle swell during the middle of February.
Tasmania's East Coast also benefited thanks to the more easterly positioned low pressure anomaly, allowing east to north-east swell to spread down into various nooks and crannies. There was hardly a flat day which is normally the case on the sheltered East Coast.
Moving west, and the Southern Ocean was far from dormant, especially for South Australia and Victoria with the break down of La Niña and its persistent blocking setup evident to most surfers.
Increasing activity projecting up towards Victoria and across Tasmania resulted in some great out of season swells for the Surf Coast, while the activity was just a little too far east for South Australia, resulting in plenty of size but average winds out of the south-eastern quadrant.
In between fronts and highs there were plenty of cleaner, smaller options across the exposed beaches in both states, while a 'bombing low' generated one of the larger, more powerful swells for the year, peaking around the 26th of December. The South Australian Mid Coast produced plenty of small 1-2ft days, with a couple of better swells padding out February.
Tasmania's South Arm also saw lots of clean, consistent surf days for summer, with the active Southern Ocean storm track sitting just south enough to be favourable.
Over in Western Australia, December was very active with back to back lows and fronts forming east of the Heard Island region while local winds were generally kind. January became a little slower and quiet before picking up a little more in activity during February, best later in the month with a four day run of clean conditions and moderate-large sized swells in the Margaret River region.
Looking ahead, the La Niña signal continues to dissipate throughout the Pacific with indications that we'll be rebounding into El Niño next summer which means less swell from the east, a more active Southern Ocean and a return to northerly winds for the East Coast.
Obviously much variation in quality depending where u are on east coast
Newcastle area had woeful conditions as no good banks to handle the predominant swell direction.close outs and big gutters
Easily worst summer in a long time
Interested to hear what central coast and Sydney was
always punishing to watch the north coast pump in summer while newcastle gets north east dribble
We get them back with south groundswells marching straight past everyone else in winter
Sydney was surfable the entire period with generally light winds and fun banks all around at the east facing breaks. All you could ask for really and plenty of bigger days in the mix as well.
Cronulla, like Newy wasn't as good owing to the E-E/NE swells and average banks.
I'd call it a classic sub-tropical summer here.
Generally mildish temps, consistent swells (albeit with some smaller, slower periods) and a few pumping swells.
Winds were generally favourable.
agreed FR, a good summer, we also managed to avoid any significant long northerly wind blast.... unlike this month.....
Hi Craig - these articles are always a favourite read - thanks.
Re. "with indications that we'll be rebounding into El Niño"
I thought (from reading previous articles) that rebounding into El Niño after a La Nina event was considered to be highly unlikely? Has this happened before?
I'm assuming, that apart from Bush Fires and lack of rainfall etc., El Niño is good for the southern states?
Nah not unlikely at all. Does happen quite a bit.
It depends on how the easterly trade-winds play out through the middle of the year.
At this rate westerly wind bursts may bring on an El Niño rebound with the Pacific Ocean charged with warm water from triple La Niña's. Any strong easterly trade-wind burst might stall this as was seen in 2014, but this was then followed by a strong El Niño in 2015.
2015/16 great surf years here, bring El Nino back.
I want to say hush your mouth, but you are dead right.
Is have to say the clearest, cleanest and warmest water I’ve felt for years. A distinct lack of weed also.
Now let the bank sculpting begin for autumn
Much the same as the last 2 summers east of melb, Unless you could drop everything in the middle of the day when the wind would settle down for a day or 2 there hasn't been much opportunity for a clean wave. At least the weather has been great, lots of sunshine yet pretty mild temps (great for mtb'ing!)
I dropped everything and got good uncrowded waves.
Centy coast had its good and bad days generally pretty good.. banks where fun only a few south swell unsurfable.. overall it’s been three good summers..
Noticeable lack of bluebottles all summer in Newcastle
Is that a factor of the warm water which was presumably warmer even further off the coast
Deep seeded north-east winds from the Coral Sea or northern Tasman seem to bring them in, so with a lack of those, we've seen a lack of blue bottles.
I reckon coal coast was 7 outta 10 as far as summers go if we had of caught some of those south swells we seem to miss could’ve even been an 8
Thanks Craig, your chart comparison is very encouraging for southern surfers. The easterly regime was relentless.
Can you say if that's a neutral position for high pressure? Seems still well south. (Positive Sam?)
Thanks for your work
I'm going to miss la Nina, been so much swell on the sunny coast.
glad to see the end of it. if this week is any indication then happy days ahead for the surf coast
Warm waves on the east coast, even good on the weekends (if you know where & when to surf),
Thanks for keeping surfers informed team Swellnet
I would say below average summer for Lennox/Ballina area.
Mostly under 3ft which gets frustrating after a while. Big swells have pumped on the goldy but only 1 place around here has handled it. Not really many good days in the bay (beachies) either.
Banks are finally coming good the last month or so, primed for some good 4-5ft swell now.
Love those solid beachy days
Well.. the waves on the west coast (other than Margs) have been as bad as any season in living memory.. (and last summer was the second worst) bring on proper Autumn and winter swells!