Plenty of swell ahead, maybe large mid-next week

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 21st May)

Best Days: Fri: building S/SW swell but with tricky winds - may back off late (keep an eye on the surfcams). Sat/Sun: generally light variable winds and a fun S/SW swell. Tues/Wed: chance for a strong S/SW swell.

Recap: Building S/SW swell later Tuesday that peaked today in the 3ft range in Torquay, with 4-6ft surf east of Melbourne and light winds keeping conditions clean.

This week (May 22-23)

*note: forecast notes will be somewhat brief this week as Craig is on leave*

Looks like we’re entering a temporary lull in swell activity for the short term. There’ll still be waves, but gusty NW winds on Thursday will confine the best surf to the Torquay coast, where wave heights will be steadily easing (inconsistent 2ft+ early, smaller later).  East of Melbourne there’ll be more size but you’ll have to contend with fresh to strong NW winds which will only favour a few locations.

Similarly gusty winds are expected on Friday as a small shortwave feature clears to the east, and we’re at risk of winds swinging W’ly then SW at some point during the morning. However, building high pressure to the west may quickly relax the pressure gradient, resulting in a significant drop in wind speed through the afternoon.

If this occurs, it'll probably coincide with a building S/SW swell that should reach the 3ft range west of Melbourne by late Friday afternoon, so it’ll be worth monitoring the 13th Beach and Torquay surfcams for signs of life after lunch (and the Cape Otway/King Island/Aireys AWS's). Early morning should see a brief window of favourable winds in Torquay but I’m just not confident that the new swell will start to show by then.

East of Melbourne on Friday will generally be written off by the local winds, along with a lack of size for those locations offering protection. So flag it and wait for the weekend, which is looking a whole lot better.

This weekend (May 24-25)

Looking good! Friday’s late arrival of S/SW swell is expected to hold through Saturday morning before easing slowly in the afternoon and further into Sunday. Surf size should reach somewhere in the 3ft range west of Melbourne early Saturday, with bigger 4-6ft waves east of Melbourne, and conditions are looking good both days with generally light winds from the northern quadrant both days. 

Overall, Saturday will be best surfed west of Melbourne (nice and early before the swell starts to drop), whilst Sunday will offer better waves east of Melbourne as we may see more NE in the wind direction. With the swell slowly easing the open beaches will be on target to produce some great waves to finish the weekend. Overall, both days are worth your attention. 

Longer term (May 26 onwards)

An interesting, and complex period ahead for the long term Victorian surf outlook. Later this week and through the weekend a strong cut off low is expected to migrate slowly through the Bight. However this won’t be in any way beneficial for Victoria’s surf prospects because it’ll be located north of the Victorian swell window.

That being said, the models are now suggesting that the polar region where this week’s S/SW swells were formed (between 120-145E) may reactivate early next week with the formation of a vigorous low pressure system. It may possibly even merge with the latter stages of the (dying) cut off low in the Bight; either way resulting in a broad fetch of SW gales aimed right into our immediate swell window (see WAMS screenshot below).

This hints at a period of small, windy conditions Monday and Tuesday, ahead of a strong - and possibly large - SW groundswell arriving Wednesday, and maybe holding into Thursday.

Additionally, due to the polar nature of this system and the likelihood that it’ll track a reasonable distance north to the mainland, we may see some cold air advection into the region that'd bring an end to the lovely warm weather of late.

Anyway, it’s too early to pin down specifics but either way we’ve got a dynamic period ahead. I’ll take a closer look at this in Friday’s notes.