Strong, easing swells from Tuesday; windy south swell Saturday
Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 9th July)
Best Days: Tues: solid though easing S'ly swell with light offshore winds in the AM. Wed: smaller, easing S'ly swell with light winds. Sun: easing S'ly swell with light offshore winds.
Recap: Small residual swells padded out Saturday with light winds keeping conditions clean. A new S’ly swell pushed into the coast on Sunday but its unusual source (W/SW flow exiting eastern Bass Strait) resulted in a wide variety of size: up to 5-6ft across the Hunter coast, but around 4ft across Sydney’s south facing beaches and much smaller south of the Illawarra. Today we’ve seen a second, even bigger south swell push through the region, though once again with a wide range in wave heights. The biggest surf seems to have occurred across the Sydney and Hunter coasts with sets in the 8ft range at south facing beaches. Winds were offshore from the west in the morning, though have swung light to moderate southerly this afternoon.
Morning drainers at Shark Island
Decent sets at the Queensie bombie just before lunch, even under a steep S'ly swell
This week (July 10 - 13)
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The strong, broad post-frontal fetch responsible for today’s impressive south swell is now exiting our swell window. Therefore, we’re looking at a slow decline in wave heights from Tuesday onwards.
However, Tuesday morning should still see some very large sets across south facing beaches, around 5-6ft across the Sydney region and a foot or two bigger in the Hunter. Wave heights will be much smaller across beaches with less southerly exposure, and we’ll also start to see the swell dry up across the southern regions earlier than northern regions.
Surface conditions should be nice and clean for the early session with moderate breezes from the W/SW, but they'll probably swing to the S/SW then S throughout the day, though likely without any major strength.
By Wednesday we’ll be down to 3-4ft+ surf at south facing beaches (again, slightly bigger in the Hunter but smaller across remaining beaches) ahead of a steady drop into the afternoon. Light variable winds are expected all day with clean conditions throughout.
The rest of the week doesn’t have a lot of swell on the cards. A series of strong but poorly aligned Southern Ocean fronts and lows traversing the waters south of Tasmania will send small long period energy into our region on Thursday, easing Friday, but I doubt we’ll see much more than a couple of stray feet of inconsistent surf at exposed south swell magnets. Everywhere else will be much smaller.
There are a few possible small flukey swell sources for the end of the week though.
A broad coastal trough is expected to develop offshore from Southern NSW later Wednesday, deepening into Thursday and possibly forming a closed low into Friday.
Initially, the E/NE tending NE and then N/NE infeed into this trough (via a ridge across the Northern Tasman Sea) may bring about a small increase in mid-range swell later Thursday and (more likely) Friday. However, the trough is modelled to pull away from the coast, and this decreases confidence in the chances for waves. The synoptics look impressive in individual snapshots, but the overall eastward track is concerning, and the poor alignment will significantly impact size potential. Let’s take a closer look on Wednesday.
In any case, a return southerly flow developing adjacent the Southern NSW coast through Friday will strengthen to gale force by the afternoon, and may in fact wipe out surf prospects anyway (whilst also contributing a punchy local swell very late afternoon and into Saturday). As such, any useful E/NE swell we may see - small as it would likely to be - will largely go to waste. I’ll have a better idea on this in Wednesday’s forecast.
This weekend (July 14 - 15)
Model guidance has some impressive wind speeds about the western flank of this trough later Friday which could generate up to six feet of short range south swell for Saturday. However, any sizeable surf we see will be accompanied by gusty S/SW winds so quality options will be restricted to protected southern ends. It'll be a lot smaller elsewhere too due to the direction and relatively low periods.
Wave heights (and local winds) are then expected to ease steadily into Sunday as this system dissipates and moves away from the mainland. Conditions should be nice and clean with light westerly breezes throughout.
Aside from this, the only other swell source this weekend is from the eastern flank of the Tasman trough, which looks like it’ll mainly be aimed away from our region, severely limiting swell potential for Southern NSW. At this stage I’m only expecting small E/NE swell at best over the weekend but I’ll revise in Wednesday’s outlook.
Next week (July 16 onwards)
The slow moving Tasman trough looks like it’ll linger in our region into early next week.
Current model guidance doesn’t suggest any major size - mainly due to a continuing poor alignment - but this outlook can be easily reversed with a simple tweak within a single model run. iAs such, there’s a stack of potential for early next week but nothing specific to hone into yet. It is early days though, and I reckon we’ll see something work in our favour but we need a little more time for the models to sort themselves out.
See you Wednesday!