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Unusual patch of southerlies

SOMEHOW the surf has managed to switch from flat week days with weekend swell, to flat weekends abundant with mid-week waves.

In a complete reversal of fortune, this has been a bit of a bonus for the local crew.

Right now it looks like this pattern will continue. After five weekdays of painfully small swell, It's looking like Huey has another low pressure system ready to deliver just in time for the weekend. This pattern of regular southerlies is pretty weird to say the least, especially for this time of year.


ABOVE: Matty getting down and doing his thing.
ABOVE: Matty getting down and doing his thing. Inbyronbaytodaycom

Normally we're lucky to see any southerly systems push through and actually last longer than a couple of days during spring. At the moment we're scoring them with almost clockwork regularity and they seem to keep coming, so what gives?


Here's what's going on. The El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently reading a neutral value.

We were showing very strong signs of moving into an El Nino during winter and early spring but it didn't eventuate. Instead we've pulled back to a neutral reading in the last month or so. This is really odd, as early spring is traditionally the time when an El Nino or La Nina event tends to strengthen.

The climate models from the Bureau of Meteorology suggest sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are likely to be a little warmer than average, but stay within the neutral range until early 2013.

This has resulted in our spring high-pressure systems backing off just a bit in intensity. Or to put it simply, more low-pressure systems have been squeezing through from down south.

They're not as intense as the winter ECLs but they do bring us some unseasonal spring swell, and it looks another one should arrive today.

The modelling suggests this system will not last long, about two days at best, but that should be enough to swing us some weekend waves.

Having fun with the beach break.
Having fun with the beach break.


How much swell we'll receive will depend on whether it tracks north or to the east. But it's fair to say that we should at least see an easterly wind swell around the 1.5m mark begin to swing to the south east today.

The bureau is calling for south swell up to 4m. But that's in deep water way off the coast. I believe 1-2m is more realistic. Whatever this system does, there should be some swell. But it will be the same direction as the wind.

So if you're looking for any size, you'll need to be up early while the offshore blows.

Because, once that south-easterly gets blowing, out of the wind will also mean out of the swell.

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

Ben 'Bear' Bennink is a former professional longboarder and retired NSSIA master coach. He writes for Pacific Longboarder Magazine and is semi-retired in Byron Bay where he is editor of

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