Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast (issued Friday 21st March)

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thermalben started the topic in Friday, 21 Mar 2014 at 4:30pm

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 21st March)

Best Days: Sat/Sun: small, fun peaky waves with light variable winds. Late Sun/Mon/Tues: very inconsistent E/NE groundswell but with generally average/poor conditions from Mon morning onwards.

Recap:  Small peaky swells Thursday, increasing a little today. Mainly light variable winds in most areas, but freshening from the NE in the south.

This weekend (Mar 22-23)

No change to the surf outlook for this weekend. We’re looking at small building mix of short range swells on Saturday - mainly sideband trade swell from the Northern Tasman Sea - with early light offshore winds tending NE ahead of a weak southerly change into Sydney during the afternoon (arriving along the South Coast much earlier).

Sunday will see a more robust increase in trade swell during the morning (2-3ft sets at NE facing beaches) ahead of the arrival of long range E/NE groundswell during the afternoon courtesy TC Mike. I've already detailed the complexities around this swell in the various forecast notes since last Friday; suffice to say that this swell will actually peak in size on Monday morning - so if you’re looking to maximise Sunday’s size potential, the late afternoon will be your best chance for this.

Winds look reasonably good for most of the day, generally light and variable with light to moderate afternoon sea breezes (probably not enough to spoil conditions). 

As for the estimated size for late Sunday - set waves will be extremely inconsistent due to the large travel distance of this swell, but should be somewhere between 3ft and possibly 5ft at exposed beaches in the few hours before dusk. However, most of your surfing will be done at the bottom end of this size range. The South Coast will see a later arrival of this swell (due to its northern origins) so it’s possible locations south of an arbitrary line - say, in the vicinity of Jervis Bay - may not see an appreciable increase until Monday.

Nevertheless, confidence is not high on the timing of this incoming groundswell - and when it arrives, it’ll be VERY inconsistent as the swell source was around 4,800km from the southern NSW coast (about double that of TC Lusi). That being said - winds are looking dicey for the peak of the swell (Monday) so it’ll be worth keeping an eye on the surf cams after lunchtime on Sunday for signs of new long range energy.

Next week (Mar 24-28 onwards)

Monday looks a little hit and miss. The morning should be at the top of the swell cycle for this incoming long range E/NE event, but a southerly change is expected to push up the coast in the early hours of the morning, and will drive fresh S/SE winds across the entire southern NSW coast for much of the day.

There’s a reasonable chance for a brief period of early SW winds Monday morning, however this will probably be contained to a small number of venues (i.e. Sydney's Northern Beaches, possibly the Hunter) - and is unlikely to occur south of the CBD (and therefore by association, the South Coast).

This is a real shame as it means we’ll be unable to truly assess the full potential of this long range groundswell. For what it's worth, we should see very inconsistent set waves between 3ft and occasionally 5ft throughout Monday, and exposed bombies and swell magnets may pull in occasional 6ft sets if we're super lucky - however most of these spots will largely go to waste under the S/SE breeze. Southern corners will have rideable options but with set waves likely to be fifteen or twenty minutes apart, you’ll need to be really patient.

Monday’s E/NE groundswell swell will ease steadily through Tuesday, and with a ridge pushing into the south, we’ll see persistent onshores through into the middle of the week. This onshore airstream will kick up a minor short range windswell (from Monday afternoon onwards) but there won’t be a great deal of size on offer. A long range S’ly groundswell is then expected to arrive very late Tuesday in Sydney (a little earlier on the South Coast) or possibly early Wednesday, but it’ll be focused towards exposed south facing beaches. In any case poor local winds will continue to spoil conditions through the middle of the week.

Beyond Wednesday there’s really nothing standing out into the longer term forecast period. A series of strong fronts well to the south of the Tasman Sea will maintain background S’ly swell energy but no great size is anticipated right now. On top of that, our eastern and north-eastern swell windows seem to indicate a period of inactivity (for southern NSW’s surf prospects anyway) but I’ll re-evaluate this in more detail on Monday. 

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welcomeguest Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 7:00am

Forecast issued at 6:01 am EDT on Sunday 23 March 2014.
Forecast for the rest of Sunday

Deceptively powerful surf conditions are expected to be hazardous for coastal activities such as rock fishing and swimming.

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thermalben Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 8:19am

Was certainly quite deceptive this morning!

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mick-free Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 10:39am

Manly Daily issued alerts yesterday too. Great photo!

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mick-free Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 10:45am

Ben, I tried to search to search the maritime alerts (today and yesterday) on the web but all I got was a wind warning for the far south coast.

Noticeable they are only forecasting a 1m swell tomorrow.

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thermalben Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 12:26pm

Yeah it's been a long standing problem with the BOM Marine warnings, in my opinion - where are they placed on their website? How can they ensure that the general public sees all relevant warning?

In this (current) case, they're not listed on the 'warning' page but instead are listed as a 'caution' notice on each Coastal Waters Forecast (ie Sydney, Byron, Eden all have the "deceptively powerful surf conditions" alert).

The BOM also list this same warning in the general Sydney forecast. However sometimes it's only on one of these webpages.. and you never know which one.

As for tomorrow's Sydney forecast - the BOM currently have "Swell: Easterly 1.5 to 2 metres, decreasing to 1.5 metres during the afternoon." Not sure where you got 1m from Mick? The current forecast was issued at 10:43am - just before you wrote your post - so you were probably looking at the 4:45am forecast, and perhaps it was temporarily downgraded earlier today?

The BOM use an automated forecasting system called GFE (which is computer generated but can be manually overriden) - however if the duty forecaster is time poor, they'll sometimes just push the model data live instead. However, I have no idea what the earlier automated forecasts were saying.

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mick-free Sunday, 23 Mar 2014 at 3:31pm

I clicked on Sydney and got the closed water forecast. Yep agree there is a serious flaw in the system in getting specific surf information to the public. Though sky news do a reasonable job on 603 weather channel. The lady even recommended Manly as the place to be today...

just drove last curly and there was a decent wave!