Early Bells forecast: Fine but not all time
The biggest swell of the year hit Victoria last Friday and Saturday, breathing life into the Surf Coast reefs that had lain relatively dormant throughout the summer.
Now all eyes are set on the Rip Curl Pro which begins next Tuesday, the 3rd of April. Will we see conditions as epic as last year's 50th anniversary? Or will the event go mobile as happened in 2010 when small swells and bad winds forced the Bell to be rung on the sands of Johanna?
With swell models lighting up across the Southern Ocean in recent days, there's been wild and varying speculation regarding the size of the swell expected in Torquay, ranging from tiny and onshore to big and perfect.
In short there'll be plenty of swell, but not from Bells' ideal direction.
If you've been keeping an eye on our recent articles regarding the link between the Long Wave Trough (LWT) and swell potential across southern Australia you'll be pleased to hear that another 'node' of the LWT is set to move in across the country just in time for the competition.
There's one small issue though: the LWT will be positioned across southern Western Australia during the weekend and early next week. This will result in Southern Ocean storms being aimed up into Western Australia's South West coast with Victoria's Surf Coast seeing unfavourable W/SW swell energy arriving through the first half of the waiting period.
The ideal swell direction for the Surf Coast reefs is between SW-SSW as westerly swells have to refract in a lot harder, hence losing much of their energy and size. In saying this we're expected to see a significant amount of storm activity firing up towards WA, with medium levels of W/SW swell producing contestable waves throughout the first half of the waiting period.
An extra thing to note with these westerly swell events, besides the loss in size across the Surf Coast, is the inconsistency. The storms creating each swell are expected to break down under Western Australia, so the resulting large travel distance, combined with heavy swell refraction into the Surf Coast will create long breaks between sets.
Conditions will be excellent during Tuesday and Wednesday morning with straight offshore winds, but Thursday is looking less than ideal as light E/SE winds develop. We may see winds swing back to the north through Friday as the large swell peaks but we'll provide another update on the Bells forecast early next week.
Short Forecast (updated 2/4/12):
- Tuesday: 2-3ft waves during the morning, increasing to 3-4ft during the afternoon. Moderate N/NW winds, tending SW during the afternoon.
- Wednesday: 4-5ft waves during the morning, easing slightly into the afternoon. Light N/NW winds, tending variable during the afternoon.
- Thursday: 3-4ft waves early, building to 4-5ft during the afternoon. Light N/NW winds, tending SE during the afternoon.
- Friday: 4-6ft waves early, easing during the day. Light N'ly winds, tending variable during the afternoon.
- Saturday: 3-4ft waves early, easing during the day. Early W/NW winds, tending fresh SW during the day.