thermalben

Fun southerly pulse Sunday; building NE swells later next week

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 20th April)

Best Days: Fun pulse of S'ly swell Sunday. NE swells building later next week from about Thurs onwards, possibly becoming large Fri/Sat/Sun.

Recap: Thursday started of a little undersized, as the leading edge of the new S’ly groundswell had yet to arrive; sets were in the 3-4ft range however as the swell front pushed through around 9am we saw a jump into the 4-6ft range at south facing beaches. Winds were light all day so conditions were clean. Today we’ve seen a rapid drop in size with south facing beaches down to about 3ft, and early light W’ly winds are now around to a moderate S’ly.

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

This weekend (Mar 21st - 22nd)

Only small surf is expected on Saturday, residual energy from today around an inconsistent 2ft at south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere, though bigger across the Hunter) however conditions should be clean with mainly light variable winds. Size will ease during the day

Sunday will see an inconsistent new southerly swell push up the coast generated by a polar low at the tail end of the South Ocean progression responsible for this weekend’s persistent southerly swells.

Only south facing beaches will pick up any appreciable size and there’ll be long breaks between the sets, but we should see somewhere around the 3ft mark, possibly 3-4ft at reliable south swell magnets such as the Hunter coast. Again, expect smaller surf at beaches not facing south.

Next week (Mat 23rd onwards) 

So, since last Monday I’ve been discussing the possibility of an ‘unstable troughy pattern across the eastern Tasman Sea next week’, which could lead to a ‘sizeable’, ‘short range E’ly through NE swell’.

And the good news if that the models are slowly locking into this event, though there’s still plenty of divergence between 'em, so confidence isn’t high as to where this system will be focused - and that is a crucial ingredient, as it’ll determine where the biggest and best waves are, and where the most favourable conditions will be found.

Right now, the first half of the week looks relatively benign with small pulses of south swells from transient Southern Ocean fronts (including a small, inconsistent S/SE groundswell on Tuesday from a brief polar low adjacent the ice shelf south of New Zealand today). Winds will be light and variable each day so there’ll be fun waves at beaches exposed to the south. It won't be worth rearranging your diary for though.

From Wednesday onwards, the outlook is less clear though an upwards trend is very likely, probably from the NE as the trough across the Eastern Tasman Sea takes shape and forms a broad fetch stretching into the South Pacific.

The most likely scenario is for building swells from the NE tending E’ly from either late Wednesday or early Thursday through Friday ahead of a peak in size on the weekend. However, the European solution actually deepens the low more quickly, forming a Tasman Low off the Southern NSW coast by Thursday, which would create an earlier peak in NE swell and then generate a large secondary short range S’ly tending SE swell from Friday through the weekend.

It’s way too early for any confidence on size and timing, but the short story is that the end of next week and next weekend is looking very dynamic, and likely very large.

Have a great weekend, see you Monday!

Comments

Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies's picture
Matt Davies commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 2:01pm

Hi Ben
I have been a member for some time now, and you guys are consistently wrong, even with your 2-3 day forecast.
Don’t get me started on the “16 day forecasts”.
I know they only a guide but....

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 2:12pm

Specifics always help Matt. If something's not right, then drop it into the comments. Always happy to clarify or investigate (as you've probably seen in the comments of these notes over the last 16 years).

First question though: are you talking about the written forecasts (in these notes), or the forecast graphs?

Beagle's picture
Beagle's picture
Beagle commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 4:21pm

As a SN subscriber for two years, and as a surfer living 150km from the coast, I call b.s. Thanks for minimising my misses and maximising my hits driving the Kings Hwy from Canberra every week Ben :)

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 6:33pm

Hi Matt,

I really have to disagree with your first sentence.

Please define 'consistently wrong'. It could easily be interpreted as meaning 8 out of 10 forecasts have been incorrect?

I read these notes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday arvo and they are the only surf forecast I need. They are the main reason I became a Swellnet subscriber.

As a weekend warrior, living a fair distance from the beach I find the daily Surf Reports to be very informative and reliable. Combined with the foresight of the Forecaster Notes I can get a good picture of whether I should plan to go surfing on the weekend, or plan to do something else

Matt it would be helpful for you could clarify your comment. Otherwise, to be honest, I think you should apologise to Ben and the Swellnet team.

Matb's picture
Matb's picture
Matb commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 3:46pm

G’day Ben, in your opinion do you think the Margy pro wouldve been tough to run, the forecast and conditions have looked pretty ordinary? Might’ve helped there call to can it..

Matb

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 3:54pm

Matt Davies, what do you do for work and may I take the time please to watch you and criticise? The last few months HAVE had some very surprising systems, the results not being anticipated correctly by ANY surf forecaster. I have very little patience for closed mindedness. Your comment makes me think that you're a repugnant fool.

Billie

Eggman's picture
Eggman's picture
Eggman commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 4:44pm

Let’s add Surf-forecasting-entitlement to the long list of problems facing our society today.

Elliedog's picture
Elliedog's picture
Elliedog commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 5:42pm

I reckon you go pretty well Ben. Thanks. For me it’s all about which days to keep clear a week in advance. For the negative ones .....drive to the beach and make your own call. It is what it is just go surf!!!!

Luba

gene's picture
gene's picture
gene commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 7:09pm

Let Mattb go back to the four day forecast chart from the Bom. He might learn something.

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 7:25pm

I fear that perhaps this Matthew fellow is a kook.

Billie

lancemorgan_'s picture
lancemorgan_'s picture
lancemorgan_ commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 7:29pm

I think you guys are doing great! I’ve pulled the pin on a few strike missions just on what I’ve read in your forecast and so far they have all payed off. I also really enjoy reading the in depth information you provide about the synoptic situation. Keep up the good work guys!

sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1 commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 9:06pm

It's a shame that when someone other than the five or so regular commentators provide feedback that it is always meet with such an emotional response. Name calling is a pretty good sign of the intelligence quotient at play. Up to Thermal who he chooses to listen to improve his game..

My thoughts and most of the crew in my area align to a similar theme as Matt. The long term forecasts have been way off for some time now. Some say the long term hype up is to drive clicks - makes sense to keep the site up -i.e "Ripcurl clicky clicky"..? But what actually gets chastised in the line up is that the bets are always hedged. Then when that future forecast is two or so days out the forecast is updated and the recap is all pats on the back. From a forecaster, I'd like to see a firm call that they stand by. Its like a mate that bets on both teams in the footy and then boasts they picked the winner at the pub..

We get weather is 'dynamic' but thats the life of being a forecaster. Make a call, commit and own it.

Anyway just want to see Swellnet improve - Take it or leave it Thermals.

mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner's picture
mibs-oner commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 9:13pm

Anyone having a dig at Ben or Craig’s forecasts are kidding themselves. They are nothing but consistent in my area. The charts are computer generated. You need to take your info from these forecaster notes. Ben this is another reason why the notes should not be free. Might clear the line ups from time to time when people aren’t expecting a few waves

Mibs

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 9:50pm

As I said in the first post, please provide specific (preferably real time) examples. Kinda hard to evaluate your opinion when it’s a sweeping statement i.e. “youse are always wrong”).

One of the lesser known valuable parts of the Forecaster Notes is the recap at the top. Not only does it set the datum for the following notes, it also helps to confirm whether the preceding forecast was accurate or not. Tie it in with punter observations in the comments, and you can easily track the accuracy for yourself.

Anyway, looking back on the last week or so and the forecasts have been pretty good from what was a lengthy series of acute, overlapping south swells. I don’t have the time to hindcast previous weeks, but if you’ve got a particular swell in mind (that did or didn’t occur), let me know and I’ll take a look.

Cabo's picture
Cabo's picture
Cabo commented Friday, 20 Apr 2018 at 10:01pm

Personally I dont blame Ben but no way did I see anything near an 8 ft bomb on Thursday.
Weather reporters in general are running against the tide given the world wide wether manipulation and patents on weather control ie Haarp etc. How do you expect your average surf reporter to go up against the constant manipulation of our weather. Go have a look at the website Www.geoengineeringwatch with over 30 million visitors, this may shed some light on why it is so hard to just rely on synoptics and NOAA these days to get barrelled.

groovie's picture
groovie's picture
groovie commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 5:47am

Well peeps after all it is a forecast from a prediction of what may occur from the weather maps from several computer generated synoptics.% wise I say they are in the positive with their forecasts. Sometimes they get it wrong , that happens with any form of prediction, if you're near the coast go check it out!

GeorgeyG's picture
GeorgeyG's picture
GeorgeyG commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 7:21am

I think the notes shouldn’t be free either. I don’t even look at the forecast charts I read the notes and they have got me some big uncrowded surf over the years

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 8:01am

Forecaster Notes will be going behind the paywall soon.

daltz's picture
daltz's picture
daltz commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 8:55am

Thats got em thinking :-)

Is that historical reports as well Ben?

Surely a quick look at the cams and the bouys (the whole east coast has them) for confirmation of timing/winds/etc isnt to hard.
Its a guide, not something to set your watch too.

Boooooooooooo to the wall too Ben, its your competitive edge at the moment.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 6:44pm

Bummer

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 6:59pm

You don’t think the entire Swellnet offering is worth $8.95 per month?

Let’s put it another way.

In exchange for everything you get on a Swellnet (plus everything else we’re soon to launch over the coming months), would you be prepared to shout someone from Swellnet one coffee, every fortnight?

Because that’s exactly how much it works out to be.

And knowing how much I personally spend on coffee every single day (let alone every month), one extra coffee every fortnight to support a small Australia business ain’t really that much, is it?

I have absolutely no problems accepting that some people don’t want to pay for access surf info online. But as a part of any discussion around this topic, I reckon it’s worth at least putting the cost into perspective.

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 10:32am

Is the subscription still free with a $100 donation to Lifeline Ben or has that window closed. Great deal!

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 11:09am

Indeed it is!

thelostclimber's picture
thelostclimber's picture
thelostclimber commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 5:45pm

Can you do this through the website? I don't see the option at the sign up page.
I'll happily donate $200 to Lifeline

Boog lyfe's picture
Boog lyfe's picture
Boog lyfe commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 10:29am

fuck me i wish i was perfect... sometimes ya hit, sometimes ya miss..... thats life, get over it. you want predictable surf, go visit the ranch

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 5:44pm

I love the fact that these flukey South swells with their acute angle can be hit and miss. They can turn on for two hours, they can provide irregular bomb sets, they can inexplicably hit certain areas a lot better than 30km's North or South of a certain area. This is the magic of the sport! This is the magic of reading a detailed surf forecast and then watching the experts feeling baffled by the outcome! It's just wonderful. I love that the Swellnet crew explain this in their Surf Forecast and I love that I take the time to decipher what they say instead of just reading the keywords that attract my attention ("8 foot bomb").

Who else remembers that weird mid February North swell? What strange behaviour! Nobody saw that coming! Isn't our sport beautiful?!?! Isn't nature great?! I loved hearing the confused reports from up and down the coast, some crew had 8-10 foot sets on the far South coast, Sydney got skunked! Why? How? Do your research! Read the hindcast! Enjoy the comments from locals statewide! Aren't we lucky to have this privelage?

Billie

Lakemac's picture
Lakemac's picture
Lakemac commented Saturday, 21 Apr 2018 at 9:12pm

There is a lot of negativity towards surf forecasting accuracy in line ups. Crew really do think that ‘they must be takin the piss’. Most people know that the figures are probably jazzed up a bit for extra clicks, but hey, all good that’s just business. I support making people pay for the notes, your better off without them, keep it old school. Good job though.......

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 7:13am

Thanks mate.

Couple of points to clarify here though.

I frequently read comments like what you said above: "Most people know that the figures are probably jazzed up a bit for extra clicks, but hey, all good that’s just business."

1) Extra clicks do NOT generate more money for the business. Without going into specific details, it's not the way things work for small websites like us.
2) How would these 'jazzed up' surf forecasts generate new/bigger traffic anyway? Swellnet doesn't have an advertising/marketing budget, so we can't communicate these messages in the traditional sense; we have a steady organic audience who come back daily. Our audience is also spread over a wide range of coastline where the forecast differs significantly on a daily basis - so it'd be a huge amount of work to engineer a automated system where only the good days (and not the bad days) for specific coasts were sufficiently hyped up.
3) The suggestion doesn't make sense anyway. Where is the merit in a long term business plan whereby we supposedly inflates figures on a regular basis - to the point where they are frequently incorrect -  just to attract some extra clicks? I'm a lifelong surf, and intimately understand what surfers want out of a surfing website. And that is: no bullshit. If our forecasts are frequently incorrect, people will stop using them and find a better source of information. We can't influence surfers in their decision either, so our goal is to simply provide the best service we can and trust that people will continue to return to Swellnet of their own accord. So far, that theory has worked very well for 16 years.

mk1's picture
mk1's picture
mk1 commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 5:27am

Actually I think most surfers overhype themselves on the forecasts. If it says s swell 2-4 foot with s/se wind ok at some spots, then later on when it's that day they are wondering why it isn't 4 foot se swell with sw winds and perfect. Generally the forecasts are right, given youre talking about thousands of km of coast.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 7:46am

Random image captured by our Shark Island cam (once every 10 mins) - bodyboarder right in the slot. Pretty shallow too!

mitchvg's picture
mitchvg's picture
mitchvg commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 12:18pm

AUSWAVE is looking pretty hit and miss for the week. How about the others?

Boog lyfe's picture
Boog lyfe's picture
Boog lyfe commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 4:42pm

what a sick little random slab out the island! jagged it lucky bugger!

sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1 commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 8:57pm

Coming back to my earlier post it would appear the points were missed. As stated, it is just feedback that can be taken onboard or not. Think we all just want to see the site improve. No need to get defensive - Unfortunately, defensive seems to be the common reaction here.. and ironically when someone is in defence what do they do - build a wall..

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 9:43pm

But how can you not understand the nature of surf forecasting? The beauty is in the explanation of the reasons for the forecast. No-one will ever get it 100% correct and to complain that they haven't and to claim that they need to improve is to have missed the genesis of the sport. Accept the grey area champion and say less. You're not clever enough to be so opinionated.

Billie

sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1's picture
sharklasers1 commented Sunday, 22 Apr 2018 at 10:46pm

Thanks lady,
Surf Forecasting: To. Forecast. The. Surf.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 6:33am

What are your suggestions for the site to improve? We're always grateful for feedback, however the only suggestion you wrote above is conditional:

"From a forecaster, I'd like to see a firm call that they stand by. Make a call, commit and own it."

By and large, I'm confident that Swellnet makes firm calls more than any other surf forecaster. However, it can't be done every forecast day.

For example, I've been talking about the current developing troughiness in the western Tasman Sea for a week now (leading to building surf later this week) and the models are still hazy. There's no way to say definitively what will happen because solid information simply isn't there - I'd love to say "come back tomorrow because we'll have a better idea" but we've comitted to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday forecasting routine.

So, we're obliged to provide our thoughts within a small window, three times per week, regardless whether there's confidence in the outlook or not.

Thing is too, you won't find any forecaster who'll commit to a specific prediction under weather systems like this.

Take the latest NSW Forecast issued by the BOM a few hours ago:

This 'uncertainty' is for the entire Northern NSW region within the next 24-36 hours. 

Want to see how much uncertainty the major weather forecasting sites were showing last night, for today?

Here's a screenshot taken from the BOM and Weatherzone websites last night - the two largest weather sites in the country, each of whom employs teams of meteorologists and weather modelling specialists.

Check out the rainfall predictions for Monday (i.e. within less than 24 hours) - which one would you go with? 5-10mm, or 25-70mm? Would you hedge your bets and find somewhere in the middle, or would you go out on a limb? At either end of the spectrum, 5mm is a couple of showers whilst 70mm has the potential to produce minor flooding depending on where, when and how it falls.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 3:34pm

For the record, as of right now most locations on the Northern Rivers have been dry since 9am, with just a handul of locations (including Byron Bay) seeing small totals in the 2-8mm range.

So, unless we see a dramatic about-face overnight (which certanily can't be ruled out), Weatherzone are currently spot on whilst the BOM would appear to have significantly overcalled today's rainfall totals.

thelostclimber's picture
thelostclimber's picture
thelostclimber commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 5:42pm

You do get defensive very quickly, but thats understandable given the 1st comment in this thread.
For the record, the vast majority of comments by myself should be taken as sarcastic, with no malice intended.
On the serious side, I've been using the reports for about 10 years in both Tasmania and NSW and would say they are right 80 - 90% of the time. With the other times being weird swells from nowhere or events that just didn't live up to expectations.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Monday, 23 Apr 2018 at 6:01pm

Thanks mate, appreciate the nice feedback. I would have been stoked with 80-90% marks at Uni!

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