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.