BELLS BEACH, Victoria/Australia (Wednesday, March 28, 2012) – The outlook for the start of the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, including the trials to be held on the Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd of April, is now looking nothing short of excellent. The forecast broadly hinges on an active storm track affecting the far southern Indian Ocean through to Western Australian longitudes over the next week to ten days.
This activity was already underway following a large, complex extratropical low intensifying over the far south-western Indian Ocean on Wednesday. The system sets up an extensive area of zonal gales spanning the furthest reaches of our long range swell window; the head of the fetch elongating beneath the Kerguelen Islands on Thursday.
This system extends further eastward and gradually weakens as the head of the fetch approaches Western Australian longitudes later Friday. A couple of long range SW pulses arising from this source are due to make landfall across Victorian coasts on Sunday and early to mid next week. At this stage the bulk of a first SW pulse is projected to fill in across the region at an inconsistent two to three feet on Sunday.
This underlying energy is superseded by a larger round of WSW swell inbound across the region over the weekend; arising from a cut off low intensifying over the Great Australian Bight on Friday and Saturday. There’s good consensus among key global models indicating the low will establish gale force WSW fetch within much closer range of the Victorian coast over this time frame.
Although the deepwater WSW swell is likely to be significantly larger than the aforementioned long range SW groundswell the storm’s position over the Bight initially places it inside the far northern periphery of our swell window; sending WSW swell our way at an acute angle of 250 degrees on Saturday.
This westerly bias in direction coupled with relatively short periods of 10 to 12 seconds is likely to heavily dilute its impact on the Surf Coast, ensuring the longer range SW groundswell will be the dominant energy across the region on Saturday at one to three feet.
Strong WSW pulse peaks on Sunday morning
However, it now appears the cut off low will carry a compact belt of WSW gales towards the Victorian coast on Saturday, setting up a respectable pulse in WSW groundswell overnight. The bulk of it is projected to peak into the early hours of Sunday – potentially topping out at four to six feet at Bells and Winki before easing back into the three to five foot range during the day – this will be reviewed as the storm develops.
By the weekend we’re more likely to see a far more dynamic synoptic pattern affecting our long range swell window. Latest model runs are now picking up a strong low developing within the broader storm track as it approaches Western Australian longitude on Saturday. The system sets up a gale to storm force WSW wind surge that acts upon an already highly energetic sea state.
This system is still forecast to further deepen into a large, intense low pressure system exhibiting a central pressure of around 950 hPa as it moves slowly beneath Western Australia on Sunday aiming a broad area of predominantly westerly gales our way; an extensive fetch spanning the entire Great Australian Bight on Saturday and Sunday.
This continues to hint at a strong round of WSW groundswell inbound across Victorian coasts on Tuesday. Although surf potential for Bells and Winki likely to be constrained by a strong westerly bias in swell direction. Never the less, potential for a large WSW swell exhibiting peak intervals of 15 to 17 seconds may be sufficient to generate three to four foot plus sets for the start of the main round on Tuesday.
The storm track is projected to remain highly active across our swell window as a blocking high centred downstream, just east of New Zealand, halts the eastward progression of the aforementioned low over the Bight. Long range models push the low southward beneath the Bight on Monday as a new stronger low sets up beneath Western Australia. There are now indications another fast moving low will merge with the first low to form a very large, intense low pressure complex occupying a vast area of the Southern Ocean beneath WA and the Bight on Monday. This holds good potential for a larger episode topping out at larger four to eight feet on Wednesday/ Thursday before winding back into the three to four foot range into Friday 6th/ Saturday 7th. Again, keep in mind it’s still far too early to accurately anticipate the behavior of the larger low pressure complex developing early to mid next week, so this remains speculative for the time being.
Saturday 31st March
WSW swell around 1 – 3ft early with potential for an increase towards 2 to 4ft during the late afternoon. WIND: Early WNW 15 to 25 knots tending W/SW 10 to 20 knots.
Sunday 1st April
WSW swell. Potential for 4 to 6ft early, easing to 3 – 5ft during the day. WIND: Light SW to SE 5 to 15 knots.
Monday 2nd April
Combination of inconsistent, long range SW groundswell and WSW swell 3 – 4ft Bells and Winki, potentially rebuilding to 4 – 6ft during the afternoon. WIND: NNE 5 to 15 knots shifting W during the afternoon.
Tuesday 3rd April
WSW groundswell, 5 – 6ft Bells and Winki Pop. WIND: WNW 5 to 10 knots, tending WSW during the afternoon.
Wednesday 4th April
WSW groundswell, speculatively 6 to 8ft Bells and Winki Pop.
Thursday 5th April
WSW groundswell speculatively 4 – 6ft at Bells and Winki Pop.
Friday 6th April
SW groundswell speculatively 3 – 4ft at Bells and Winki Pop.
Forecast brought to you by official meteorologists for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Coastalwatch Plus.
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