Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast (issued Monday 31st March)

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thermalben started the topic in Monday, 31 Mar 2014 at 4:16pm

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 31st March)

Best Days: Friday: chance for a peaky short range S/SE swell with early offshore winds. Saturday/Sunday: solid S/SE swell but with tricky winds. 

Recap: Peaky E/NE swell Saturday with early offshore winds in Sydney ahead of a freshening southerly. Same winds again on Sunday but with a smaller E/NE swell and a replacement S’ly swell. Both days in the 2-3ft range. Smaller surf this morning (1-2ft open beaches) with early off shores. 

This week (Apr 1-4)

Not much happening for much of this week. All of our primary swell windows are inactive at the moment, so residual swell will most likely pad out most beaches for the coming days.

The low that developed off the South Coast on Saturday (and gave rise to a fun S’ly swell on Sunday) has slipped away to the south-east, into the central southern Tasman Sea. It did briefly intensify this morning - not to any great strength, mind - so we may see a brief flush of small south swell at exposed south facing beaches throughout Tuesday. However I’d be surprised if we saw much more than a very inconsistent 2ft+ at these beaches, and most likely early-mid afternoon (expect small residual swell to 1-1.5ft otherwise).

Winds on Tuesday will begin favourably, but we’re looking at freshening nor’easters in the afternoon. So aim for a sheltered northern corner for the late session.

Tuesday afternoon's minor pulse will then fade throughout Wednesday. Northerly winds are also expected to freshen on Wednesday so if you plan on extracting the weak leftovers from Tuesday afternoon, a protected corner will be your best option.

A fresh southerly change will work its way up the coast on Thursday, however it’s not expected to reach Sydney until the early afternoon. We’re likely to see a small NE windswell in the water (that the models aren’t quite picking up just yet), so the early surf may provide a few peaky 1-2ft waves at NE facing beaches. Once the southerly arrives it’ll be all over - a small S’ly windswell is excepted into the afternoon but quality will be low.

As for Friday, the computer models are currently divided as to what developments will take place in the south-western Tasman Sea during the middle of the week. It appears very likely that we’ll see another troughy feature here but the precise strength and position of the accompanying fetch around the trough (and possibly low pressure system) makes it difficult to have confidence on what kind of surf we’ll see. 

Right now I think we’ll see a peaky S/SE swell around 3-4ft at south facing beaches, and conditions are likely to improve quickly between Wollongong, Sydney and the Hunter region as winds steer around to the W/SW in response to a low developing off the South Coast. Keep in mind that because the computer models are not resolving this situation very well, the swell graphs are likely to change with each updated run (four times per day) until about Wednesday or Thursday. So right now my opinion is that they’re majorly undercooking the swell potential from this system.

This low will probably bring a larger S/SE swell to the region over the weekend but right now Friday looks to be the pick of the working week. I’ll update this more comprehensively in Wednesday’s updated forecast.

This weekend (Apr 5-6)

The weekend outlook hinges on the developing low off the South Coast. Confidence is only low right now as to what kind of surf we’ll see, but gut feel is that we’re looking at solid, windy waves in the south of the state (where the likely fetch will probably be aimed) up to 5-6ft+, grading to 4-5ft between Wollongong and the Hunter (with the upper end of this size at south facing beaches). However the timing on when this peak will occur needs to remain somewhat elastic for the next few days. 

Due to the complex synoptic setup, it’s also too early to have much confidence in the local winds but the most likely scenario is for W/SW winds both mornings, tending fresh S’ly reducing the day. 

Next week (Apr 7 onwards)

The low off the South Coast is the dominant feature for the weekend, so next week’s surf potential will ultimately revolve around the backside of that particular event. So right now there’s not a lot to discuss for next week as we’re still in the early stages of the modeling for the weekends event. I’ll have a better idea on Wednesday.