UPDATE: Here we go. In about 12 hours time, a big ol' swell licking will blast Cloudbreak. And that's right after having its finished having a tirade of New Zealand and Australia. But more on that soon. Skis are being fuelled this evening waiting for first light.
Tony Butt, MSW forecaster breaks this one down: "That complex area of low pressure is now sitting south of New Zealand, producing southerly winds in the Tasman Sea and the first part of a large swell which will hit Fiji from yesterday onwards.
"Over the next 24 hours or so, the main system stays in place, and a low develops off the southwest tip of New Zealand, with an associated area of stormy winds off Tasmania. This moved NNE, hitting the North Island of New Zealand.
"The strong winds will result in an even larger pulse of swell that will combine with the first one, hitting Fiji between Tuesday and Wednesday. Wave heights will be at least the same as our previous forecast, perhaps bigger, but we still don’t think they will quite match up to that epic swell of 2018."
We'll be going live from the channel on this one, stay tuned!
EARLIER: While all eyes have been watching over Teahupoo recently, it could now be time to cast the gaze over to Fiji and Cloudbreak, as a big swell may be set to blitz the island nation next week.
Now, we can't stress this enough, this is an incredibly shifty storm made up of multiple centres, with waves forecast to hit Fiji on Wednesday next week. That's a long way out in forecast terms. Now, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that the numbers will change dramatically – with a bit of luck, we could see the first true large session of the season.
MSW's resident wave wizard Tony Butt explains: “The South Pacific chart currently shows a moderate-strength low south of New Zealand, moving steadily east. The southerly winds in the Tasman Sea associated with this system have already generated a pulse of swell, which will hit Fiji towards the end of this week.
“Hard on its heels is another low, currently way south of Tasmania, which will expand into large, multi-centred system south of New Zealand by the end of the week. This becomes slow-moving and maintains its strength until at least the early part of next week. Multiple lows develop on its western flank, pushing up against a large high south of Australia, and generating large areas of storm-force southerly winds in the Tasman Sea. The pulses of swell, heading straight towards Fiji, almost merge into one, arriving early next week and continuing for the practically the whole week.”
So, how big we talking about here? “Wave heights from that first pulse on Friday ramp up to about five or six feet, continuing through the weekend. The next pulse is expected to arrive on Monday, picking up to around eight feet or so, with a slight dip on Tuesday, before increasing big-time on Wednesday, with wave heights over ten feet. The swell then gradually ramps down, losing size and quality by the end of next week.”
How likely is the forecast to change though? “Of course, this is a long-term forecast. Whether or not Fiji gets a huge swell next week depends on that second low doing what they say it’s going to do, which is still about five days out. Later this week we’ll update with more certainty.”
Whenever those big numbers start to creep up, we always ask Tony to check up on what the figures were from the last colossal forecast. In this case, it's May 27 2018. Unfortunately, this swell isn't up to those giddy heights, which was when Ramon Navarro powered through a bus-sized tube, melted the internet. “The 2018 swell was bigger than the one currently forecast,” said Tony. ”This swell is coming from a large area of strong winds in the middle to south of the Tasman Sea, whereas in 2018 there was a tighter area of stronger winds that moved from the south to the north Tasman. So there were a few different factors that made 2018 bigger: 1) Stronger winds 2) Dynamic fetch effect of the windfield becoming synchronous with the swell, and 3) The windfield came closer to Fiji.”
Stay tuned for updates, but keep an eye on the forecast, HERE.