Great surf Saturday, stormy options Sunday, then plenty of strong swell next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

South Australian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 28th October)

Best DaysSat: great waves across both the Mid and South Coasts, tho' possibly a lag at dawn. Sun: good ol' Mid Coast stormy through the arvo. Chance for a brief window at dawn down south. Mon/Tues: periods of W/NW winds at Victor with solid swells, bumpy on the Mid but plenty of waves. Wed/Thurs: small on the Mid with light winds, offshore at Victor with a lrge S/SW swell.

Recap: Thursday started off very small but the expected long range groundswell pulsed nicely from mid-morning onwards, producing clean if very inconsistent 2-3ft surf across the Mid Coast in the afternoon, and 3-5ft surf across the Victor coast (bigger at swell magnets). Today we’ve seen light winds from the east and a slightly smaller swell around 2ft across the Mid Coast (that could pulse slightly again on the afternoon tide, though it’s still very inconsistent) and peaky 4-5ft surf at Victor Harbor, with bigger sets at swell magnets. Sea breezes are now just starting to develop though.

Lovely glassy lines at South Port this AM

This weekend (Oct 29th - 30th)

Note: these forecasts will be a little more brief today due to limited time, but Craig will back on deck on Monday.

Local winds will dictate this weekend’s waves.

We’ve got two pulses of strong new W/SW swell due for the weekend, generated by an active frontal progression in the Southern Ocean over the last few days - the first swell is expected through Saturday and the second through Sunday

However, Sunday will see an unrelated cold front bring squally W/SW tending SW winds to all regions, which will chop up most coastlines (and deliver some additional windswell across the Mid Coast).

Today’s groundswell will ease back overnight but the next pulse should build throughout Saturday, and the good news for both coasts is that the pre-frontal airstream will hold more from the NE than straight N. Either solution would have been fine for Victor but across the Mid Coast these winds will stay offshore all day, overriding any potential sea breeze pattern.

It’s hard to estimate how much downtime we’ll see between swells (i.e. early Saturday morning) - model guidance suggests it’ll be into the coast some time around dawn but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a slight lag around sunrise. Either way, we’re looking at building size into the 2-3ft range across the Mid Coast throughout the day with good conditions across most breaks.

The slightly more west component in the swell direction will cap surf size at Victor though Middleton should pick up 3-45ft sets by Saturday afternoon (smaller in the morning). Conditions will be clean here all day

On Sunday, winds are expected to swing from the NW to a gusty W/SW by early-mid morning (before 9am), then SW through the bulk of the day. As such there’s a chance for a brief window of clean conditions at Victor but you’ll have to be quick. Size range should hover in a similar category as per Saturday afternoon; somewhere in the 3-5ft range at Middleton with reliable swell magnets seeing bigger sets. 

Across the Mid Coast, there’ll be an underlying 2-3ft groundswell on Sunday plus another foot or two of windswell on top through the afternoon, so check the usual stormy haunts for the best waves, but quality will be hard to find. Even the metro beaches should see some small bumpy surf after lunch. 

Next week (Oct 31st onwards)

Sunday’s change will give rise to fresh, but easing W’ly tending W/NW breeze on Monday, and plenty of swell for the Mid Coast (2-3ft+ on the tide) and South Coast (3-5ft). Victor should start to offer some good options into the afternoon as the wind swings, but the Mid Coast will remain bumpy all day.

A steady, elongated progression of Southern Ocean frontal systems - extending all the way down to the ice shelf - are then expected to deliver a series of slowly building swells through Tuesday (early W/NW winds tending fresh W/SW with another front), ahead of a peak on Wednesday where we’re looking at 6ft+ surf across the South Coast. Winds should swing to a lighter NW to accompany this solid swell event. 

The main reason I’m expecting this size range at Victor Harbor is because of the length of the fetch in the days preceding; Wednesday’s pulse will be sourced from the polar low which will be working in a very active sea state from Sunday through Tuesday, and its track is right up through the state’s SW thru' S/SW swell window, which results in a smaller size loss due to refraction (compared to SW thru’ W/SW swells).

This swell direction isn’t great for the Mid Coast but we should see a foot or two of refracted swell make its way through the gulf. Wednesday and Thursday should see mainly light variable winds here. 

Surf size will then ease slowly through Thursday - though still quite solid at Victor early morning, ahead of smaller surf into Friday

Looking further ahead and next weekend is currently on track for another round of strong winter waves with more fronts expected to approach the state, delivering plenty of surf for both coasts. Not bad for early November!

Have a great weekend, Craig will be back Monday.


barley's picture
barley's picture
barley Friday, 28 Oct 2016 at 11:48pm

How good has this year been?...and its not over

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Saturday, 29 Oct 2016 at 6:37am

No sign of the new swell at the buoy yet (no concerns though, it'll build later) but how's these between-swell sets at South Port? And there's no-one out across the entire beach either.

Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly Monday, 31 Oct 2016 at 12:03pm

Was a bit of a fizzer on the mid on Sat, headed past at about 3pm for the incoming tide hoping for a third surf but it was hardly a foot... got some great waves down Victor in the morning though especially late morning for the second session when the wind backed off a bit.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 31 Oct 2016 at 12:16pm

Hmm, that's odd..  didn't get a chance to check the South Port cam through the afternoon but up until lunchtime Saturday there were still plenty of 2ft sets on offer (image below from noon, right click and "open in new tab" to see at full size). 

CdC wave height data also increased slightly throughout the day (from the morning, when there were 2ft sets showing nicely) as well. As winds were NE across the region - though quite strong - we can be reasonably confident that the bulk of this data was groundswell energy and not wind swell energy (because the CdC buoy lies in the shadow of Kangaroo Island under NE winds). 

Swell periods (average wave period, blue line) also increased through the morning, dipped briefly around lunch then rose strongly, peaking just after dinner time too.

A very odd afternoon of waves then, give the buoy observations!

Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly Monday, 31 Oct 2016 at 2:29pm

It looked like the tide had swallowed up the swell by 3pm... oh well the old fickle mid does it again! Hence why I went to Victor!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Monday, 31 Oct 2016 at 2:37pm

Indeed.. yet another Mid Coast curveball! How was Victor? Winds looked unreal all day. 

Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly's picture
Stef_Olly Monday, 31 Oct 2016 at 3:17pm

Good mate probably should have gone around to W&P but still got some fun ones along the Day Street stretch, especially late morning, conditions were primo.