Tricky winds, but plenty of swell coming
Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 23rd October)
Best Days: Thurs: building long range swells, super inconsistent and relatively small on the Surf Coast, but with good winds. Fri: inconsistent, windy conditions in Torquay though OK. Sat AM: windy, building swells best suited to the Surf Coast. Easing Sun with a brief window of early light winds. Tues/Wed: super long range, long period groundswell, best suited to the open beaches east of Melbourne.
Recap: The weekend’s large waves eased into Tuesday, with 3ft surf in Torquay and 4-5ft+ surf east of Melbourne, with clean conditions under light offshore winds. Wave heights have eased a little more overnight with similarly clean conditions this morning.
This week (Oct 24 - 25)
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Today will be spent periodically checking the buoys for leading edge signs of an approaching groundswell that delivered clean 10ft+ sets across the Margaret River coast yesterday. I am doubtful that we’ll see a material impact by COB today but in the event it arrives earlier than expected, I’ll update in the comments below.
Nevertheless, Thursday will see a slow, steady upwards trend across Victorian beaches as this swell reaches a peak. The enormous travel distance will result in much smaller size here than western parts of the country, and it’ll be terribly inconsistent too, but the Surf Coast should pick up occasional 2-3ft sets, with the East Coast much more open to these kinds of swells, offering 4-5ft+ sets.
Again, let me stress the inconsistency: there will be very long breaks between waves. But, conditions will be clean overall with early light N’ly winds freshening during the day.
This (very inconsistent) swell will persist into Friday, though conditions will become very windy as the first in a series of strong fronts approaches from the west in the morning and eventually crosses the coast.
Our model guidance is suggesting W’ly winds for Friday but I think this is wrong, we’ll probably see gusty NW winds for most of the morning west of Melbourne, tending W/NW at some point as the front passes, though more W/NW tending W’ly winds are expected east of Melbourne.
To that end, it’ll probably be N’ly up until an hour or so before dawn, but don’t let this fool you into thinking there’ll be a clean window of opportunity.
Anyway, an earlier incarnation of this the primary low driving these fronts - south-west of WA yesterday - displayed a nice fetch of 50kt winds. Unfortunately, it’s positioned a little too north in latitude, and its subsequent passage through the northern Bight today and tomorrow will be just north of our swell window. This will result in a very W’ly swell direction, which will create a much wider range in size between the Surf Coast and East Coast than normal.
Further compounding this fact is that we’re not likely to see an arrival time of its forerunners across the Victorian coast until early-mid afternoon, which means the bulk swell will fill in overnight Friday. Late afternoon may see an increase but we’ll be under blustery W/NW thru’ W’ly winds by this time and I am doubtful that the Surf Coast will pick up much more than 2-3ft from this source.
This weekend (Oct 26 - 27)
A series of lows will form in and around Victorian longitudes on Friday as a Long Wave Trough amplifies across the region.
Unfortunately, they’ll be poorly consolidated - the aforementioned low/front through the northern Bight will be just north of our swell window, and a short-lived polar low further south (see below) will strengthen right on the eastern periphery of our S/SW swell window, before quickly tracking into the Tasmanian swell shadow.
Between the two - right in the primary part of the Vicco swell window - wind strengths will be weakened, which reduces surf potential.
Nevertheless, we are looking at a building size on Saturday, probably offering a brief peak around 3-5ft across the Surf Coast and 6ft+ east of Melbourne, but this will probably occur during the afternoon, following the passage of the last cold front. Which means: winds will be onshore, or as a minimum, cross-onshore (W/SW).
Early morning should see a window of W/NW winds, with a little less size (though, on the upwards trend). I’ll ballpark the Surf Coast around the 3ft mark at this time: the best surf (i.e. slightly bigger, still reasonably clean) will occur just prior to the front, which is due to cross the coast early-mid afternoon.
East of Melbourne will be blown out at the open beaches and protected spots will be a little on the small side. There’ll be afternoon options if you’re keen but it’s not worth getting too excited about.
We’ll then see easing surf into Sunday with moderating W/SW winds, briefly W/NW for a period on the Surf Coast.
Next week (Oct 28 onwards)
We’ve still got an extremely long period W/SW groundswell due to arrive Monday.
Our wave model is estimating 0.2m at 25 seconds (!) overnight Sunday, but the reality is that this swell will have originated not only a very large distance from the mainland, but also from an intense though solitary low pressure system that won’t have a strong supporting ridge to its south, which greatly reduces its surf potential for distant shores (relatively to what the WAMS might otherwise suggest).
In any case we’re still looking at building surf late afternoon (light winds all day) and then peaking through Tuesday (freshening N’ly winds) before easing Wednesday (fresh N’ly tending N/NW winds). Peak surf size should reach 2-3ft in Torquay and 4-5ft+ east of Melbourne but there could be half an hour between set waves. It’s not a swell event to get terribly excited about, unless you’re planning to be at the beach anyway.
Otherwise, the outlook for next week remains subdue with a blocking pattern setting up camp in our regular swell window, and a series of modest lows and fronts developing SW of WA this weekend building moderate swells for Victoria later next week and weekend. Nothing to get excited about but there is surf potential on the horizon.
See you Friday!