Two killed in dangerous Bali storm swell

By AG Staff Writer June 16, 2016
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Two people have died at a popular surf spot in Bali after the island was hit by a dangerous combination of king tides and large waves.

TWO TOURISTS FROM Hong Kong and Singapore have died after being dragged out to sea in unusually dangerous conditions at Padang Galak Beach, a popular surf spot in Sanur, Bali, according to reports from local newspaper Tribun Bali.

A king tide combined with large swell left popular coastal restaurant The Rock Bar at Ayana Resort deserted and damaged, while popular Australian tourist destination, Ku De Ta in Seminyak was pounded by waves, WA Today reported.

Dubbed ‘tidal waves’ in much of the press coverage of the conditions, Associate Professor Robert Brander (aka Dr Rip) – an expert in coastal processes from the University of New South Wales in Sydney – reiterated that the waves should not be confused with a tsunami, with which the term ‘tidal wave’ is sometimes used interchangeably.

“The dangerous wave conditions in Bali recently were not a result of a tsunami wave, but the combination of persistent large swell waves generated from a strong mid-latitude cyclone in the southern ocean off Western Australia,” Robert explained.

“These large waves just happened to coincide with king tides, which are the highest tides of the year. What this means is that around high tide, the run-up and surge from the breaking waves rushes much further up the beach than it normally would and the backwash down the beach is also strong. These are dangerous conditions, but they are not freak waves or tsunami and conditions will return to normal once the swell decreases and the king tides finish,” he said.

In Australia, a similar combination of king tides and an east-coast low pressure system wreaked havoc across the New South Wales coast earlier this month.

Most of the surf off the coast of southern Bali remains off-limits due to the dangerous conditions.