Fun weekend of waves; dynamic week ahead with multiple swell sources

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 9th March)

Best Days: Fun waves most days, just keep an eye out for winds later Mon/Tues. Wed AM probably the pick of the forecast period at this stage. 

Recap: A mix of mid-range SE swells on Thursday saw an additional E’ly and S’ly swell today (the latter denoted by a kick in peak swell periods to 15 seconds), though wave heights have generally remain in and around the 2-3ft mark. Winds were onshore for much of Thursday (light and variable south from Sydney) with early offshores in most regions this morning tending onshore throughout the day. 

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

This weekend (Mar 10-11)

Looks like a fun weekend of waves ahead with a mix of swells on the cards.

The Tasman Sea ridge will continue to generate small E’ly swells for our region, and we’ll see some small long range southerly groundswell as a minor secondary pulse (on the backside of today’s energy) rebuilds swell periods across the coast. 

Additionally, we’ll see a continuation of small E’ly swell through Saturday from a mid-week fetch exiting western Cook Strait (and a small secondary fetch that developed today, arriving Sunday), plus a spread of S/SE swell from a small southerly fetch that developed off the SW tip of New Zealand’s South Island over the last day or so.

In general, most exposed beaches are looking at peaky, disjointed but otherwise fun waves in the 2-3ft+ range both days. There'll be slack periods at times but it'll be well worth sniffing around for a wave. Winds should be light each morning, but will trend onshore throughout the day - more E/SE on Saturday but then N/NE on Sunday. No major strength is expected though.

Next week (Mar 12 onwards)

Wow, what a dynamic week in store for Southern NSW. In fact the whole East Coast looks really exciting from a forecasting point of view right now. 

First up - most of the weekend’s swell sources will ease through Monday, and winds are expected to be light and variable with sea breezes ahead of a late southerly change. This change will impact the South Coast by lunchtime but looks like it’ll be slow moving, so we should see workable conditions north from Wollongong for the greater part of the day.

A decent SW fetch exiting eastern Bass Strait on Monday will generate a respectable small south swell for Tuesday, though onshore winds will encroach most coasts (S/SE) so conditions won’t be great at those beaches picking up the most size. Sets should reach 2-3ft from this source at south facing beaches throughout the day

But, there’ll be a much stronger source of new swell building across the coast at this time. TC Hola is currently positioned inside the swell shadow of New Caledonia, and will track quickly towards a position north of New Zealand over the weekend. The initial stages of this passage will be too fast and poorly aligned within our swell window, however as TC Hola approaches NZ on Saturday afternoon it’ll strength a ridge over New Zealand's North Island. 

The computer models have been slowly ramping up the strength of this interaction since Monday, when its prospects were first tabled. Admittedly, it’ll be mainly aimed towards SE Qld however we’ll see a healthy spread of energy back into our region, and with core winds expected to reach 50kts, swell periods should kick up quite considerably too. This E/NE swell should muscle up through Tuesday afternoon, peaking early Wednesday between 3ft and maybe 5ft at some exposed NE facing beaches. I'll be able to fine tune the size on Monday as we'll have satellite confirmation of surface winds (right now I've gone higher than model guidance, based on the strengthening trend across recent runs). 

In fact, the models have also changed its later path in recent runs, pushing it briefly off the West Coast of NZ and possibly generating a second brief E'ly pulse later Wednesday or early Thursday. I'll take a closer look at this on Monday. 

In addition to this E/NE swell, we’ll see the first of several long period southerly swells push up the coast (Tues/Wed, easing Thurs) generated by a series of strong fronts below Tasmania from Sunday onwards. They’ll also reach a peak around the same time, up to 3-5ft at south facing beaches. 

As mentioned earlier, winds look a little dicey Tuesday as the southerly change pushes up the coast but Wednesday morning is shaping up to deliver light variable winds as this swell combo reaches a peak. A weak trough may kick up winds from the north during the afternoon but it’s really not looking that bad on the surface for now. 

And the good news doesn’t end there.

As mentioned throughout the week, the models have been hinting at a possible Tropical Cyclone in the northern Coral Sea early next week, and with each update they’ve been reaffirming its potential. Right now there’s some pretty crazy guidance with a possible path very close to the SE Qld region mid-week, and whilst that could deliver all kinds of problems (or, potentially epic surf) for the Quiksilver Pro, it also brings about increasing confidence that we’ll see a flush of NE groundswell across Southern NSW later next week.

And, the models have another strong south swell at the end of the model runs too (Friday, holding into the weekend) from a strong Southern Ocean front crossing the Tasmanian divide. So, there’s no shortage of options to pick and choose from.

Have a great weekend - see you Monday!


batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 9:33am

Way over-delivered on south coast this weekend, Ben, solid 4' with bigger bombs pretty much all day Saturday. At least where I was. A one day wonder, back to 2' Sunday.

NZ going to cop another smashing weather-wise.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 10:20am

What direction - south or east? Were you a little ways south, or right down south?

Forecast was 2-3ft+ both days and Sydney seemed to be around the 3ft mark, with the odd bigger one. 

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink commented Monday, 12 Mar 2018 at 5:58pm

I would have said south east direction, was at a beach facing that way, not a long way south of Jervis Bay. There was a mix of east but I think the solid ones were south east.

Solid 4', + on the bigger ones, a fair lull in between, should have thought about period but didn't try to estimate it, probably around 12 or more. Caught a few where I was looking a long way up to the top of the wave, and I didn't get the biggest ones (caught inside, as usual).

Looking at the maps last week I was thinking the source might have been from the system at the bottom of NZ south island, but I think there was a fairly substantial southern ocean low that flew by that could have been the source. You will have the charts for last week. Lasted pretty much all day, was still solid in the arvo.

Others I spoke to who had been driving around in the morning who had less luck.

Craig is a regular visitor down there. He knows where I go!

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