Fun weekend for the open beaches

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Victorian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 20th September)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Brief window of good winds early Thurs (TQ, WP) and solid surf, easing in size
  • Clean Fri with easing surf
  • Small and clean from Sat thru' Mon with generally light variable winds
  • Easterlies developing Tues, then westerlies from Wed
  • No major surf until the following weekend


Easing surf maintained clean 3-4ft sets early Tuesday before size eased to 2-3ft throughout the day. Conditions were clean with offshore winds. The surf was bigger east of Melbourne and the onshore breeeze didn't kick with any strength until mid-afternoon, so the open beaches delivered strong workable waves. Today we're seeing building surf already pushing 3-5ft in Torquay (bigger to the east) with gusty W/NW winds tending W'ly. East of Melbourne is big and blown out.

Plenty of mid-morning size in Torquay, one bloke had this all to himself

This week (Sep 21 - 22)

Building swells today will peak overnight and then gradually ease through Thursday, though trailing SW winds behind the front will maintain poor conditions at most locations.

However, there's a reasonable chance for an early window of light W/NW winds west of Melbourne early morning. Exposed spots will probably retain a bit of lumpiness from today's winds, though it will clean up as the day progresses. 

I'll keep wave heights as per Monday's forecast, around the 5-6ft mark at the Surf Coast's swell magnets (smaller elsewhere), easing to 3-5ft by the afternoon. East of Melbourne will be closer to 6-8ft at exposed beaches but there should be small waves inside Western Port, albeit a little more lumpy thanks to the SW breeze.

Light variable winds are then expected Friday as wave heights continue to ease. There should still be enough size for decent options in Torquay (3-4ft easing to 2-3ft) though it'll become pretty inconsistent. Open beaches east of Melbourne should still be near 4-6ft early Friday, with Western Port likely to be undersized. 

Keep an eye on the regional wave buoys for signs of a big jump in peak swell periods (22-23+ seconds) from the huge storm off South Africa late last week. However, I'm not expecting any major change in local surf conditions on Friday as a result. 

This weekend (Sep 23 - 24)

No change to the weekend outlook, with a weak high pressure ridge maintaining generally light variable winds both days, if anything some form of NE breeze. 

In addition to easing swell from Friday, there'll be two additional swells in the water though I don't think they'll contribute much size to the region. 

The first is the extra-long period energy mentioned above, which was generated below South Africa last Thurs/Fri (so, a travel time of more than one week). Significant wave decay will have occurred over this time frame and the fetch was actually aimed into Indonesia, so sets will be infrequent and small, favouring exposed beaches with 3ft+ sets.

The second swell will have been generated by pre-frontal NW winds near Heard Island, ahead of a deepening polar low (that will initially be aimed outside of our swell window). Again, it's not well aligned within our swell window so the sideband energy we receive will be only small.

Therefore, it's shaping up for a great weekend across the open beaches east of Melbourne with 3ft+ sets, perhaps a few bigger waves early Saturday, and slightly smaller conditions settling in on Sunday. West of Melbourne will be smaller (1-2ft) though early Saturday may see some stray bigger waves at the swell magnets. 

Next week (Sep 25 onwards)

The storm track looks very active SW of WA for next week but it won't push very close to our region - though an unrelated short wave feature will bring about a couple of days of westerly winds mid-week.

Therefore, we're looking at small to moderate swells for much of the week, pulsing between 2ft and occasionally 3ft west of Melbourne, and closer to 4-5ft east of Melbourne. You'll need to make the most of Monday (light variable winds) and Tuesday (easterlies) for the best conditions though.

Bigger surf prospects are on the radar for the following week, but I'll have more on that in Friday's update.

See you then!