Window of light winds Wed/Thurs, then a strong run of surf for the points

South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 23rd April)

Best Days: Wed/Thurs AM: fun beachies with light winds. Fri: small waves at protected points under gusty S'ly winds. Sat onwards: timing isn't confident, but we're looking at some potentially solid SE swells with good winds for sheltered points developing at some point over the weekend or early next week.  

Recap: Slowly easing S’ly swells Saturday rebuilt into Sunday with the arrival of a new S/SE groundswell, producing 3ft sets across south facing beaches south of Byron. Surf size was smaller across SE Qld due to the swell direction, though there was some minor leftover energy out of the east. Wave heights held into this morning in Northern NSW though eased slowly through the day, with small surf persisting about most SE Qld beaches. 

Today’s Forecaster Notes are brought to you by Rip Curl

This week (Apr 24 - 27) 

The synoptic charts shows a broad, unstable trough lying off the East Coast. 

However, it's a complex system moving in an unusual manner down the coast and without a strong supporting high pressure ridge to its south, the easterly fetch on its southern flank is not particularly strong. This is keeping swell prospects undersized for now though there is still considerable divergence in the model guidance, which means we need to keep our options flexible for the rest of the week. 

Additionally, gusty southerly winds will create some problems on Tuesday as a small local system within the trough strengthens off the Far North Coast. As the trough drops to the south on Wednesday, local winds will relax and we’ll see much better conditions holding through into Thursday morning. However, a strong ridge will build across the Northern NSW coast later Thursday and into Friday, renewing gusty S’ly winds into SE Qld to finish the week. 

As for surf prospects - it all looks a little underwhelming to be honest. The main axis of the trough will be south of our region, aimed into Southern NSW (and even then, won’t display much strength due to a weak high pressure ridge to its south). 

A broader though ultimately moderate-strength ridge extending back through the South Pacific will generate some small workable east swell for most of the forecast period but it won’t have a lot of strength, and will ebb and flow either side of wave heights that could be reasonably deemed 'surfable’. 

In short: expect small beachies through most of the forecast period from this source, probably building from 2ft to 2-3ft from Tuesday through Wednesday, then holding from Thursday through the following Monday (probably with a minor period of downtime around Friday or thereabouts between swell phases). 

If anything, the lower Mid North Coast (being geographically closest to Southern NSW) may pick up some bigger waves Tues/Wed from the fetch associated with the local trough but local winds are dicey Tuesday and Wednesday may see some leftover lumpiness. 

The southerly winds developing Thursday should kick up a strong short range south swell for south facing beaches on Friday but it’ll be wind affected at most beaches, and those locations offering protection will be only small. 

So with all of that in mind, aim for a paddle at an exposed beach on Wednesday whilst winds are light, or early Thursday (the southerly may not reach the border until the afternoon, so we may see a decent window of opportunity all day).

This weekend (Apr 28 - 29)

Model guidance is way off target for the weekend, so confidence is down on wave height potential. 

The remnants of our broad Tasman trough are expected to interact with the front system later this week, though how, when and where they do is unsure. The EC solution has a somewhat explosive development in the form of a Tasman Low on Friday, leading to a broad fetch of SE gales aimed straight into our coast that’d generate large surf (and locally windy conditions) for the weekend. 

However, the US solution favours a slower development closer to the NZ coast, which would result in a smaller weekend of moderate S/SE swells, ahead of a strong (though comparatively smaller) S/SE groundswell early next week.

Both options look windy out of the S/SE anyway so it’ll be protected points only - meaning we’ll need to see a lot of swell to make it worthwhile. Chances are reasonable that there’ll be (as a minimum) 3ft surf across the outer points but if the European model eventuates then the outlook will become a whole lot bigger. 

Let’s wait and see how Wednesday’s model output is looking. It’s simply too difficult to call right now. 

Next week (Apr 30 onwards)

It looks like this Tasman Low is going to dominate the charts for some time, so most of next week’s outlook will hinge on whether it eventuates over the weekend, or whether it delays until next week. Either way, surf prospects look quite active next week from the SE quadrant.

See you Wednesday!


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 6:34pm

Tiny grinders at Currumbin this afternoon.

_benno's picture
_benno's picture
_benno commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 7:41pm

Wow, what a picture though. At first glance it would be easy to think that is on the pump! Maybe for Alf.

weak man's picture
weak man's picture
weak man commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 8:01pm

Ben, your dates on the forecast are all over the shop

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 9:54am
Thanks mate.. all good now.
davetherave's picture
davetherave's picture
davetherave commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 9:06am

deebs cranking, fken magic morning. love these days.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 10:45am

That east swell is already on the build, nice 2-3ft sets this morning. Light winds across SE Qld too.

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 12:20pm

Finally felt like Autumn this morning.
How fun does Dbah look right now.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 3:06pm

Cooking Duranbah..

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 3:17pm

Nice for that wind to stay offshore all day.
Thanks Huey.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 3:33pm

So much for the fresh southerlies and 70mm of rain on the Northern Rivers! Couple of spots around Coffs have picked up 20mm in the last 24 hours but there's been not a lot elsewhere, and it's been relatively dry on the Tweed.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Tuesday, 24 Apr 2018 at 6:16pm

Missed the whole day but it was cooking for the late.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 25 Apr 2018 at 10:01am

Autumn is such a fantastic time of the year. Small but super fun and peaky.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Wednesday, 25 Apr 2018 at 12:01pm

Paddled out at one of the Tweed Coast beaches an hour ago, got a couple of fun waves then as another set came in and stood up, I saw the shadow of something through the wave. Either a small shark or a dolphin, couldn’t be sure, looked about five feet in length.

Just prior to this a chopper had begun circling down the point to the south, about 800m away, and I thought I heard a faint siren though couldn’t tell where from.

So, having caught the wave after seeing the big fish, I decided it was relatively small and tracking north - so probably wasn’t of too much concern. And, the Tweed beaches don’t have that big deep gutter at the moment, so as long as you hang close in on the bank it should be relatively safe. A young fella was nearby so I told him to keep his eyes out as I’d seen something but didn’t want to spook him.

By this time, the chopper was bearing down in our direction, and then banked hard when it was right above us. Uh oh, I think. It starts circling, then rapidly drops height - probably to get a better look at something - then turned on the sirens at full volume. The chopper had a NSW Maritime logo on the side.

To be honest, I didn’t feel there was any threat though I had no way of knowing whether there was another bigger fish further out. So, I paddled in with the grommet. Two other blokes further in also came in. As we walked up the beach the chopper was dong some circle work another 500m south.. suggesting they’d seen another big fish of some description. So, three alarms within a couple of kays.

Bloke on the beach reckoned there was apparently fifteen sharks in the region, but I didn’t ask him where he’d got the info from.

T’was a shame, as the surf was fun, the water clear and warm, and there wasn’t many crew around for a public holiday. 

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Wednesday, 25 Apr 2018 at 1:11pm

The stories of interactions and sightings started again about 2 weeks ago down here. A confirmed bump yesterday along a back beach a touch further south. They're back.

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