Not much to finish the week; solid though windy swells from Sunday onwards

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 11th October)

Best Days: Fri: low/mod chance for an afternoon session across parts of the Northern Rivers with a building local SE swell but with light winds. Unlikely to be much in SE Qld, and the Mid North Coast will probably be onshore. Sun: solid building E/SE swell with gusty E/SE winds, best suited to the southern Gold Coast points. Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs: solid E'ly swell but with tricky winds, mainly fresh E/SE, confining the best waves to sheltered locations. 

Recap: Tuesday saw good though easing SE swell across Northern NSW in the 3ft+ range, though it was smaller in SE Qld around 2ft+ at exposed northern ends. Today has seen even smaller conditions settle as the SE swell has continued to abate. Early light winds are now freshening from the NE. 

This week (Oct 10 - Oct 13)

There’s not much to get excited about for the rest of the week.

Today’s freshening NE breezes will tend more N’ly then N/NW into Thursday, generating a minor windswell for the Mid North Coast but certainly nothing of interest. 

Expect small, northerly affected waves elsewhere. Even if the wind tend more NW at times, there simply won’t be any swell to take advantage of.

A cold front will clip the Southern NSW coast on Thursday morning, driving a southerly change and associated trough into Northern NSW overnight. 

However, it’s expected to stall and linger just south of the border into Friday morning.

This creates some uncertainty as to the wind outlook on Friday - north of the trough, we’ll see light winds, probably from the west, trending slowly to the north - but south of the trough, winds will be S’ly, then SE as you head further towards Sea Rocks. It looks like the trough axis will probably be around Ballina/Evans, so most of the Mid North Coast is looking to be onshore - but we may see OK conditions across parts of the Far North Coast and SE Qld region throughout Friday.

And the reason this is worth highlighting is because a developing high pressure system below the trough will strengthen and elongate a SE fetch out into the Tasman Sea during the morning, which will kick up some peaky short range SE swell. No great size or strength is expected, but it’s certainly possible that we’ll see 2-3ft+ sets by the late afternoon across the Mid North Coast (smaller earlier). Obviously, this region will be wind affected, and surf size will be smaller as you head north from here, but there’ll be a transition point where winds are light and there may just enough size to make it worthwhile for a fun afternoon beachie session somewhere. 

Anyway, I am doubtful we’ll see much, if any swell north of the border, so SE Qld surfers shouldn’t get too excited. I’ll update my thoughts in the comments below on Friday morning if there’s any new information regarding the days’ likely trend. 

Also worth mentioning is a potential Friday afternoon kick in S'ly swell across the Northern NSW coast, from a front exiting eastern Bass Strait on Thursday morning. To be honest, its late arrival will probably be masked by the developing SE fetch (and local swell) but it's possible south swell magnets may see occasional 2-3ft sets from this source late in the day. I wouldn't work around it though.

This weekend (Oct 14 - Oct 15)

The models have strengthened the coastal trough in the latest runs, with SE thru’ E/SE winds expected to strengthening off the Northern NSW coast all day Saturday, reaching 30-40kts overnight into Sunday morning. 

At the moment, Saturday is expected to remain small in SE Qld, though we’ll see building windswells about Northern NSW as the onshores muscle up. As such, no great surf is expected on Saturday at this point in time, unless you can find a well-sheltered point or cove south of Byron to combat the blustery conditions.  

Sunday is therefore the pick of the weekend, with this short range E/SE swell expected to reach a peak, in addition to a slowly building E’ly swell from a developing trade flow south of New Caledonia - an entirely seperate swell generating system.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that winds will will hold from the E/SE at strength on Sunday, in the 20-30kt range locally, with a slim chance for regions of early light SW winds (though they can’t be ruled out, under the unstable synoptic pattern). This means that we’ll see only a few protected points that will be able to offer workable conditions. 

As for size, maximum wave heights will probably be concentrated across the Ballina, Tweed and Gold Coasts, up to 4-5ft+ at exposed spots but smaller running along the protected points. The fetch won’t be quite as well aimed into the Mid North Coast (3-5ft) and the Sunshine Coast looks like it may initially dip out a little from this first swell, with wind affected 3-4ft+ surf at most open beaches but very small waves at sheltered inner points. 

Because of the close proximity of this system to the mainland, it’s certainly quite possible that we could see an upgrade over the coming days - and the region of maximum size may also move around. I’ll have a better idea on this on Friday. 

As a side note, there’ll also be some small long range S’ly swell in the water this weekend, originating from a broad but poorly aligned series of strong Southern Ocean fronts and lows passing south of Tasmania on Thursday night. However the local windswell will be the dominant energy in the water. 

Next week (Oct 16 onwards)

A slow moving Tasman high will be a dominant weather feature for us next week. It’ll strengthen a broad E’ly fetch through the northern Tasman Sea from Sunday onwards, holding near-stationary through until the middle of the week at least. 

This is expected to generate a long lived E’ly swell event that’s due to peak in and around Tuesday, with 4-6ft surf across exposed coasts, and smaller surf running along the points (though still reasonably sizeable at many spots, owing to the E'ly swell direction). Wave heights will build Monday and then ease slowly from Wednesday though we should see plenty of energy holding into Thursday, ahead of a slow decrease into next weekend.

However, the associated high pressure system is also expected to be positioned quite close to the mainland which means we stand a greater chance for seeing winds out of the eastern quadrant for the duration of the swell event. While this is OK for very protected locations, it will reduce the number of surfable options across all coasts. 

Regardless, it’s great to see an extended run of solid east swell on the cards in October. Let’s hope some small windows of favourable winds open up over the coming days as the models start to refine this event a little more. 


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 12 Oct 2017 at 10:14am

Models have weakened Friday's small SE fetch into the Mid North Coast, reducing the chance for minor a'noon surf potential across the Northern Rivers. 

Wind strength through Sat/Sun from the developing coastal system is also a little weaker which may result in a slight downgrade for Sunday (in tomorrow's update).

Same for next week's swell too; the broader synoptic pattern is still expected to hold but we may only see the upper end of the size range across exposed SE Qld beaches, as the latest guidance is suggesting a focus in and around the Fraser Coast.

But let's wait and see for now. 

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather commented Thursday, 12 Oct 2017 at 1:27pm

see the upper end of the size range across exposed SE Qld beaches, as the latest guidance is suggesting a focus in and around the Fraser Coast.

EC's been progging this for most of this week. GFS as per usual slowly coming into line with EC.

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