July In Review
Another month down, another four weeks of quality, consistent swells in the southern states - particularly along the Surf Coast - and mostly listless waves for the East Coast.
Over west, the Margaret River region is only just starting to break the cycle of large, onshore surf, while South Australian and Victorian surfers tend to sore bodies.
The climate anomaly charts - which measure the difference from the long-term average - for July are in, and they illustrate what most surfers are well aware of. Throughout July, Margaret River was bombarded by non-stop frontal systems, which in turn have provided consistent swells and favourable winds for both South Australia and Victoria, with the Surf Coast in particular being the greatest beneficiary of this synoptic setup.
This is depicted in the Mean Sea Level Pressure anomaly chart (below), with a significant area of lower-than-normal pressure sitting south of the country. It's no suprise that this area corresponds with both South Australia and Victoria’s prime swell window. Any Southern Ocean storm that delivers will be borne from that patch of ocean. To have such a significant anomaly proves, at least in a theoretical sense, that winter '23 has been a standout season - and one hell of a rebound from the past three years.
The Tasman and Coral Seas have been dominated by high pressure, with only one significant easterly swell gracing the East Coast, that being at the end of the month, following a large spike in southerly swell.
While on the East Coast it’s shaping up to be one of the worst winters in a while, there have been many small days to pick and choose from, just not the consistent, moderate-sized swells from the eastern quadrant.
In that sense it's also been a rebound season.
Tasmania’s East Coast has been much like the East Coast: mostly small and with long periods of flatness, while the South Arm has been able to rake in fun amounts of swell from the Roaring Forties, with a couple of larger days in the mix.
A quick look at July's average winds paints the same picture. To the west of the continent there's been plenty of swell-generating westerly winds, providing a month of quality waves in Indonesia, while south-east trade-winds have also provided back to back large swells to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the East Coast was in a slump with the persistent westerly flow - clean conditions but all the swell was heading for Fiji. This scenario links to the air temperature charts. With La Niña leaving the building and an El Niño signal setup throughout the Pacific Ocean we’ve seen a reduction in rainfall and increasing temperatures across the country.
Inland eastern Australia has been 1-2°C above average, and this was clearly apparent into the end of the month as spring-like conditions prevailed across the eastern half of the country.
We’re nearly halfway through August and the long-range outlook is a touch more positive for the East Coast while a little less reliable for the southern states.
Could an early transition to spring conditions be on the cards?
The hints are there.