SWELL ALERT: The Entire East Coast Is About to Turn On

28 Jun 2019 0 Share

Ben Macartney

Chief Surf Forecaster

Issued Friday, 28 June 2019

The entire East Coast is now on the cusp of what can only be described as an epic easterly swell-event; notable for both its impressive size and longevity. It’s also clear that the vast dimensions of the swell-source will benefit the entire Eastern Seaboard under mostly favourable offshore winds through the height of the swell to boot. The strongest winds associated with the developing fetch are situated over tropical latitudes (this is discussed in more detail below) and hence south-eastern Queensland and far northern NSW coasts will be receiving the lion’s share of the swell.

The mid-northern NSW coast will receive very similar wave-heights – and even Sydney, Newcastle and all the way down to the South Coast of NSW will be pulling in powerful, double overhead surf or better as the bulk of groundswell fills in early next week. On top of that, the further eastward migration of the system will result in a long kiss good night; providing the entire East Coast with a slow easing trend in East and ENE swell; with the tail end of the swell still likely to be reverberating at low levels over the weekend of Saturday 6th July.

These kind of conditions are looking like a reality across the NSW coast over the coming days. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Wozthatyou_doug.

These kind of conditions are looking like a reality across the NSW coast over the coming days. Photo: Uploaded to CW by Wozthatyou_doug.

Synoptic Overview
The swell source is a broad ESE to easterly fetch now strengthening between a 1014 hPa low situated just east of New Caledonia and a large subtropical high centred over New Zealand. The head of the fetch effectively extends from the western Tasman Sea, eastward into the Southwest Pacific Ocean, exhibiting a phenomenal length of 1,900 nautical miles in length. Having said that, the strongest area of 30 to 40 easterlies will encompass a more compact, but still vast area within the broader, 20 to 30 knot wind-field as the system reaches peak strength later Friday and throughout Saturday.

A tropical depression deepening near New Caledonia contributes to a strong pressure gradient in conjunction with a huge subtropical high to the south. Source: BOM.

A tropical depression deepening near New Caledonia contributes to a strong pressure gradient in conjunction with a huge subtropical high to the south. Source: BOM.

The impressive length, extended duration and stability of the wind-field is further compounded by a slight retrograde of the low (briefly moving from east to west near the south-eastern tip of New Caledonia) over the next 24 hours; facilitating maximum seas and swell in the vicinity of 25 feet over the region on Saturday. All that, coupled with the relatively close range of the source to the coast, all translates into many days of large and powerful surf, carrying right through to the end of next week.

The impressive size of the fetch drives a large Easterly swell to peaks of 25ft over the eastern Coral Sea on Saturday. Source: Wave Tracker.

The impressive size of the fetch drives a large Easterly swell to peaks of 25ft over the eastern Coral Sea on Saturday. Source: Wave Tracker.

Southern Queensland and far northern NSW:


  • A building trend in shorter period ESE swell was already well underway across the region on Friday; generated by a closer range ESE fetch developing throughout the northern Tasman Sea.

  • This leads in the first stage of the swell event; driving an increase into the 4 to 6ft range along the more exposed coasts on Saturday and Sunday, grading to 3 to 5ft elsewhere.

  • Initially this increase will be hampered by fresh onshore winds from the same direction on Saturday, but by Sunday conditions should be looking much better as the ridge slackens over the coast, facilitating much lighter winds across the region all day.

  • The bulk of Easterly groundswell moves in on Monday, holding potential for heavier 6 to 8ft+ sets across exposed areas and still large and powerful surf along the points and bays, ranging anywhere from 3 to 8ft depending on location.

  • A light to moderate SW to SSE wind-regime should produce excellent conditions along all of southern Queensland’s points, as well as Byron Bay and sheltered breaks further south.


Short Forecast

Saturday
Potential for consistent ESE swell. Ranging from 4 to 6ft across the most exposed open coasts, grading 3 to 5ft elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Scope for early limited SW to SSW inshore, more likely SE to ESE 15 to 20 knots, easing to 10 to 15 knots in the afternoon.

Sunday
Larger Easterly groundswell builds in. Ranging from 5 to 6ft+ exposed open coasts early, building to 6 to 8ft during the day. Wrapping at 3 to 6ft along the points and into bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: Light WSW to SSW inshore, tending light SE to ESE 10 knots in the afternoon.

Monday
Easterly groundswell continues. Up to 6 to 8ft+ exposed open coasts, wrapping at anywhere from 3 to 6ft+ along the points and into bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: SW to SSW 10 to 15 knots inshore, tending South to SSE 15 to 20 knots.

Tuesday
Easterly groundswell gradually eases. Up around 5 to 8ft along exposed beaches, wrapping at anywhere from 3 to 6ft along the points and into bays with size depending on exposure. WIND: Early SW to SSW inshore, tending South to SSE 10 to 15 knots.

Wednesday
Easterly groundswell continues to subside. Around 4 to 5ft+ exposed coasts, easing marginally in the afternoon. Otherwise grading smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: Light WSW to SSW inshore, tending Southerly, SSE 15 to 20 knots in the afternoon.

In Summary: Sydney, Newcastle and the South Coast


  • An initial, combined increase in Easterly swell and short-range NE windswell pushes up to a good 2 to 3ft or more on Saturday afternoon and continues to range either side of 3ft on Sunday, with more size likely in the afternoon.

  • Strong ENE groundswell builds in across Sydney and surrounds from 75 degrees on Monday morning, conservatively at 3 to 5ft and building to 4 to 6ft+along open beaches in the afternoon under all day westerly quarter winds.

  • Large ENE groundswell continues at 4 to 6ft+ on Tuesday morning before slowly easing into the afternoon.

  • Larger 6 to 8ft sets are likely at Easterly-swell focal points both on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.


 Short Forecast

Saturday
Slow building ENE swell mixing with NE windswell. Around 2ft+ exposed open beaches early, building to a more consistent 2 to 3ft+ in the afternoon. WIND: WNW to NNW 10 to 15 knots tending NNW to Northerly 15 to 25 knots during the day, then NNE in the afternoon.

Sunday
ENE swell hangs in at 2 to 3ft+ across exposed open beaches and picks up in the afternoon. WIND: WNW 10 to 15 knots, shifting SW in the early morning, then WSW, Westerly and easing in the afternoon.

Monday
Rising, mid-period ENE groundswell fills in. Speculatively undersized early at 3 to 5ft exposed open breaks early, picking up to a solid 4 to 6ft+ in the afternoon. WIND: Westerly, WNW 5 to 15 knots, tending NNW to Northerly in the afternoon.

Tuesday
ENE groundswell slowly eases. Sets ranging from 4 to 6ft at the most exposed breaks, more like 3 to 5ft along the majority with size depending on exposure. Easing marginally in the afternoon. WIND: Light Westerly, WNW 5 to 15 knots, tending WSW in the afternoon, possibly South later.

Wednesday
Easing ENE groundswell continues at 3 to 5ft at the most exposed beaches, otherwise smaller elsewhere with size depending on exposure. WIND: SW to SSW around 10 to 15 knots, tending SSE in the afternoon.


Tags: SWELL ALERT , Ben Macartney (create Alert from these tags)

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