Lots of southerly swell for the entire forecast period
South-east Queensland and Northern NSW Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 17th August)
Best Days: Sat: fun S'ly swell in Northern NSW with offshore winds, though very small in SE Qld. Sun: small but clean for much of the day, possible kick in S'ly swell in a'noon at select south swell magnets. Mon: very large S'ly swell though windy, best suited to outer SE Qld points in the a'noon. Tues: light winds everywhere with a very large S'ly tending S/SE swell. Great waves across all regional points. Wed: solid though easing S/SE swell, still very good options in SE Qld. Thurs/Fri: smaller S/SE swell with light winds.
Recap: Thursday delivered easing southerly swells across Northern NSW, and a very inconsistent long range E’ly swell across SE Qld and Far Northern NSW. There were occasional 2-3ft sets from both sources but the rare bigger sets form the east didn’t materialise as far as I saw (though, with only limited time watching the surfcams and up to half an hour expected between bigger waves, it would have been hard to spot ‘em). Both swells eased into this morning ahead of a building southerly swell across Northern NSW that produced some 3-4ft sets at south facing beaches (south of Byron) this afternoon - see images below from Coffs Harbour just before dark.
Late Friday afternoon S'ly swell at Coffs Harbour
This weekend (Aug 18 - 19)
Today’s new south swell is expected to peak overnight and then ease through Saturday, ahead of the arrival of a second south swell, generated by the parent low to the front that kicked up the current energy.
This low was positioned S/SE of Tasmania on Thursday, and didn’t hang within our swell window for very long, so the resulting swell will last only a short period of time. And just like today’s swell, it’ll only favour south facing beaches south of Byron Bay, with smaller surf at remaining beaches and generally tiny conditions north of the border.
As such, getting the precise size trend on Saturday is difficult because not only will we be between swells, but each part of the coast will be at different phases of both the old and new energy. For example, early morning will see smaller, easing, pre-existing south swell across the Mid North Coast compared to the Far North Coast, but concurrently, there’ll be larger, building, new south swell across the Mid North Coast compared to the Far North Coast. By the afternoon, the old south swell will be gone, whilst the new south swell will be biggest across the Far North Coast and smaller across the Mid North Coast.
Let’s just peg size in and around the 3-4ft+ range at south swell magnets south of Byron all day, and be prepared for periods where it may fluctuate smaller than this. Conditions will be clean with generally light winds and a possible afternoon sea breeze.
Throughout SE Qld, there won’t be much size on offer away from exposed northern ends (of which the Gold Coast will probably be the only beneficiary). Minor residual east swell may pad out exposed beaches with a small peaky wave every now and then otherwise you’ll have to hit up south swell magnets for occasional 2ft+ sets. Even then they’ll be far and few between.
Saturday’s mix of south swells will then ease through Sunday morning with occasional 2-3ft sets at south swell magnets, mainly north of Coffs and south of Byron early, easing during the day. Much smaller surf is expected elsewhere.
A series of vigorous fronts crossing the SE corner of the country will freshen W/SW winds, maintaining clean conditions across the region.
Although a deep Tasman Low will begin developing east of Tasmania through Sunday, the initial fetch alignment within our swell window will be very west so the only swell increase on the cards for Sunday will be a flukey spread of southerly energy from the W/SW fetch extending into the Tasman Sea off the Southern NSW coast.
Ordinarily, common logic would write this fetch off as a swell source, however some south swell magnets - likely those well north of Coffs, probably a handful of spots throughout the Far Northern NSW and Gold Coast region - may pick up building energy at select northern ends throughout the afternoon. It’s a low percentage event, but I can’t completely rule out the chance for an increase into the 2-3ft range at these locations. However, most beaches will remain very small with residual energy on tap.
Next week (Aug 20 onwards)
We’ve got a complex series of large south swells for the first half of next week. They’ll originate from a deep Tasman Low that’s expected to display several embedded low/fronts wrapping around its western flank, all of which will be working on a large pre-existing sea state.
Initially, there’ll be a lot of short range energy - and a lot of local S/SW wind - on Monday, and this will create problems, confining the only rideable options to protected locations, whilst contributing heavy sweeps through the surf zone. Exposed south facing beaches south of Byron should push up into the 8ft+ range by the afternoon but protected spots will be much smaller.
Obviously, with ideal winds out of the south, all road should lead to the SE Qld points. By and large, they will be your best bet but we need to factor in a significant drop in size because of the generally low periods and southerly swell direction. The trend will be upwards throughout the day, and should increase from 1-2ft at dawn to around 3-4ft+ at the outer points by the afternoon. However, the more sheltered points like Noosa will be much smaller because of the unfavourable direction. Conversely, exposed northern ends of the coast should be much bigger.
Tuesday is still the pick of the forecast period, with large, powerful waves on the cards plus clean conditions under a light airstream as a high ridge in from the west. Wave heights will remain elevated, thanks to a kick in swell periods sourced from a secondary embedded low positioned much further south in the Tasman Sea, which will allow for a better quality S/SE groundswell to develop (especially because it will have been working on an active pre-existing sea state). And with the local fetch parallel to the East Coast also easing later Monday, the short range southerly energy will ease back in size through Tuesday, which will allow for less delineation in the lineup thanks to overlapping swell trains.
Sets should push the 8ft+ mark at south facing beaches, though offshore reefs and bombies well aligned to the south could see much bigger waves, depending on how well they can focus and magnify the energy. However once again, locations not directly open to the south will see smaller surf, and wave heights will trend down throughout the day.
Across SE Qld, size should peak around 3-5ft across the outer points throughout the day, with larger 6ft+ bombs across exposed northern ends. If anything, the Sunshine Coast may come in a smidge under that of the Gold Coast.
Light winds are expected for the rest of the week under a broad but relatively benign high pressure system. Tuesday’s very large southerly groundswell will abate through Wednesday, though still 6ft, maybe 6-8ft at south facing beaches south of Byron early morning, and potentially still 3-4ft across the outer SE qld points, ahead of smaller surf throughout the day.
Expect size to continue down through Thursday, bottoming out into Friday aead of a small bump of long period Southern Ocean S’ly groundswell across Northern NSW on Saturday that’ll renew surfable options across south swell magnets.
More on that in Monday’s update. Have a great weekend!