Small intermittent south swell all of next week
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 16th May)
Best Days: Mon thru' Fri: Small, intermittent long period south swells right throughout the week.
Recap: Tiny waves and fantastic weather.
This weekend (May 17-18)
Not much surf expected this weekend, just some tiny residual lines from a building trade swell that’s aimed into the SE Qld region. Winds will be out of the north and the weather will be great but surfing is firmly off the agenda.
The only thing to keep an eye out for is a possible late arrival of small, long period south swell, generated by an intense low that’s expected to clip Tasmania on Saturday. Although poorly aligned for the East Coast (with a strong ‘zonal’, or west-east flow), it’s expected to be a very powerful system (winds of 50-60kts as it passes south of the region) and we’ll see some small lines push into the South Coast during Sunday afternoon.
At this stage I’m not confident that we’ll see much size north of Wollongong (the leading edge isn't due until close to dusk) but it certainly can't be ruled out - so keep an eye on the Bondi surfcam (being a south swell magnet) after 2pm for a chance that it arrives ahead of schedule. In the event it does, exposed south swell magnets will offer the best waves under the light N’ly breeze; sets could approach the 2ft mark for the late session if we're super lucky. Keep your expectations low though.
Next week (May 19-23)
Two small south swells are expected to be in the water on Monday. The primary swell will be related to some highly refracted energy originating from the intense low passing just south of Tasmania on Saturday. It’s very hard to be confident on the likely size due to the poor orientation of this system, however its sheer size and strength overrides this factor (to a degree) and I think there’s a reasonable chance that south swell magnets in the Sydney region could see inconsistent 2ft+ sets, with larger waves in the Hunter (~3ft+).
A second source of south swell for Monday is already under production at this moment, much further to the south of Tasmania. As per the image to the right, a stationary polar low has formed right off the ice shelf today, and is generating a secondary south swell that’ll fill in behind the first one (current ETA in Sydney is Monday afternoon).
Again, confidence is not high on the likely size but it’s fair to assume something in the same ballpark as the primary swell (very inconsistent 2ft+ Sydney, bigger in the Hunter). Also, this swell will favour the South Coast better than the primary swell because the axis point around Saturday’s fetch - the one positioned just south of Tasmania - will heavily attenuate refraction into the NSW coast south of about Jervis Bay.
Unfortunately, our wave model isn't resolving this swell very well right now so we'll have to keep an eye on the MHL buoys to tracks its arrival along the NSW coast.
Anyway, conditions are looking very good on Monday with light W/NW winds so it’ll be well worth sniffing out an exposed swell magnet for some fun waves. Just expect very long breaks between the sets.
These south swells should hold into Tuesday morning but will ease slowly during the day. Similarly favourable winds are expected ahead of a late shallow S’ly change on the South Coast, that's unlikely to affect the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions to any great degree.
As for the rest of the week, more south swell is expected courtesy of another reasonably strong frontal progression south of Tasmania on Monday and Tuesday. Although not as strong as Saturday’s system, this fetch will be a little better aligned and we should see intermittent pulses of S’ly swell in the 2ft to maybe 3ft range in Sydney through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with bigger sets in the Hunter. But there will once again be long breaks between sets.
Long term (May 19 onwards)
Nothing significant standing out in the long term forecast at this stage. A broad ridge of stubborn high pressure looks set to linger across the Tasman Sea for quite some time, so our near swell window will probably remain inactive for the forseeable future. This means we’ll be reliant on flukey long range sources of swell for the next few weeks. More on this in Monday’s update.