Another five days of easterlies, then a resumption of autumn westerlies next week

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 18th March)

Best Days: This week: favourable conditions east of Melbourne under a persistent E'ly pattern. Early next week: large swells to return, favouring the Surf Coast. 

Recap: Small easing swells for the last few days with mainly E’ly winds. Great options east of Melbourne. Not so flash west of Melbourne.

This week (Mar 19 - 22)

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So, Friday's models were pretty good with their outlook for a week or more of E’ly winds: they’re still holding this pattern through into the end of this week.

This stagnant pattern is thanks to a synoptic blocking pattern in the form of a stationary belt of high pressure across the Southern Ocean, stretching from underneath Western Australia through South Australia to a position below Tasmania. In addition to delivering E’ly winds across Victoria (also helped by an inland trough of low pressure) the block is forcing Southern Ocean weather systems away from our near swell window, which is reducing the size and strength of inbound swell events for the short term.

But, there are waves on the way.

Our far swell window - from Madagascar longitudes, through Heard Island and below Western Australia - is seeing a conveyor-belt of modest fronts and low pressure systems, and they’re expected to generate varying degrees of pulsey groundswell all week. For the most part, we’re looking at background swell just up to 2ft in Torquay and 3-4ft east of Melbourne, but a strong front a few days ago has generated a better groundswell due to arrive later today, that’ll produce larger waves on Tuesday (inconsistent 3ft Torquay, 4-5ft+ east of Melbourne). The large travel distance will result in extremely long periods between sets though.

Another round of fronts extending east of Heard Island right now will kick up another swell for Friday, probably of a similar size as what we're expecting over the next 24 hours (it was slightly downgraded over the weekend), though the swell direction will have a shade more west than this afternoon's pulse, which should favour slightly larger waves east of Melbourne - so perhaps 5-6ft+ sets here, though again quite inconsistent.

Locally, this week's E’ly fetch through Bass Strait won’t be quite strong enough to generate any notable windswell for the Surf Coast, though there will be small weak waves all week in addition to the intermittent groundswell offerings.

This weekend (Mar 23 - 24)

The regional block is expected to break down later this week, and will result in a frontal passage over the state this weekend. This will arrest the easterly trend and swing winds around to the western quadrant.

A series of powerful polar lows are expected to project up from the Ice Shelf around the same and generate large swells for the state, though the bulk size may not arrive until Monday. 

At this stage Friday's solid swell should hold into Saturday before easing steadily over the weekend. With light to moderate W/NW winds on Saturday, we'll see fun waves across the Surf Coast though it'll become smaller into Sunday. That being said, the approaching fronts will strengthen W/NW winds and eventually build W/SW swells into Sunday, so we may end up seeing small clean waves west of Melbourne all weekend - and there's a chance for some much bigger waves late in the day, depending on the timing of the pattern.

I can't see anywhere east of Melbourne being especially worthwhile this weekend though.

Overall I fear weekend surfers may be somewhat short changed ahead of the large increase due early in the following week. Let's firm things up on Wednesday.

Next week (Mar 25 onwards)

There’s a pretty good suggestion that early next week will see a return to typically strong autumn patterns, with large SW swells and gusty winds out of the western quadrant. More on this in Wednesday’s notes. 


Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 11:25am

Thanks Ben, I do have a question though. If we have two seperate swell trains in the water like what we'll have on Tuesday, one small/moderate long period swell from the W/SW and one short period wind swell from the E/SE, do the opposing swell directions impact the power/energy of the other, or does each seperate swell energy pass straight through the other due to the different wave lengths? I know one place where one long range swell train refracts around and then approaches the shore from two vastly different angles but under that scenario it produces amazing powerful A-frames as the swells collide. But what happens when we have two totally unrelated swell sources with completely different periods?

willibutler's picture
willibutler's picture
willibutler commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 11:36am

What coast is this spot on

The Plowking's picture
The Plowking's picture
The Plowking commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 11:43am

An under threat island coast im guessing

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 11:45am

We've covered this before elsewhere (for other coasts) but in short, each swell train will pass through with no discernible effect on the other.

Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 12:13pm

Thanks mate. Do you have a link to the more in-depth discussions relating to other coasts?

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 18 Mar 2019 at 1:00pm
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G's picture
Walk around G commented Tuesday, 19 Mar 2019 at 10:01pm

Hmmmm, some interesting reading there..... Thanks Ben.