Byron Bay after the rain. It's pretty, but not much use for surfing.
Byron Bay after the rain. It's pretty, but not much use for surfing. Slideaholics.com

How the El Nino effect is ruining Byron Bay's surf breaks

LAST weekend's swell didn't get close to the predictions that were circulating, but then again, it rarely does. It never really got above 2m. 

As for Byron itself, it was almost flat, although there is a reason for that.

Right now there is a massive build up of sand at the cape, blocking pretty much everything except east and northeast swells from getting into the bay. We see this every several years or so, usually coinciding with an El Nino.

During the El Nino pattern we tend to get fewer severe ECL's and less large swell close to the coast.

Maddie cruising the hood
Maddie cruising the hood Slideaholics.com

Rather than the sand moving around the cape and into the bay, it packs into a wedge formation stretching from the cape over to the rocks on the Bombie and into Little Wategos.

This creates something akin to a temporary sea wall. Not only does it block a lot of the swell, but it also causes an eddying effect with the prevailing inshore current.

This eddying effectively pulls the sand away from the beach and causes erosion. That's why Wategos has such bad banks at the moment and The Pass is losing sand rapidly to the point where it barely breaks at all, especially at high tide.

This hasn't stopped the holiday crowds, but good waves in the bay at the moment are fairly rare, and will remain so until the sand at the cape shifts.

Dave coming around.
Dave coming around. Slideaholics.com

On a more upbeat note, at least it looks like this weekend could see some consistent small easterly wind swell.

It's unlikely to get bigger than about 1m at (8-10secs) but if the direction is pure east it could produce a few options at most places.

There is also a large southerly swell train pushing up through the Tasman. It's solid and long period 2-4m at (14-18secs). However I really wouldn't bank on us seeing much of it.

It would take the formation of some serious east trade winds or a solid unexpected low to swing it into our coastline.

Stay safe, have fun, wait your turn, and surf today like you want to surf again tomorrow.



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