Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast (issued Monday 21st April)

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thermalben started the topic in Monday, 21 Apr 2014 at 2:40pm

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 21st April)

Best Days: No great days. Friday your best option at this stage and even then it's 50/50 right now.

Recap: Large E/SE swell to 8-10ft at exposed spots Saturday, easing into the afternoon. Early SW winds tending S/SW then S'ly throughout the day. The E/SE swell was quickly replaced by a 4-5ft S’ly swell at south facing beaches on Sunday, with offshore winds and sea breezes. Smaller 2ft+ waves at south facing beaches this morning with offshore winds. 

This week (Apr 22-25)

Oh yeah. How was the Easter break for waves? Pumping every day from Eden to Fraser Island with good winds, sunny skies and one of the more impressive long period E/SE groundswells we’ve seen in many years plonked right in the middle. Although that’s mainly from a technical point of view (because many spots in Sydney were simply too big on Saturday) - peak swell periods registered in the 20 second range overnight on Friday, which is unheard of (in my experience) for groundswells originating from the eastern quadrant. Wave heights were easily 10ft at exposed bombies on Saturday morning; no doubt you’ve seen plenty of images so there’s no need for embellishment at my end. 

Also impressive was the speed at which the east swell abated. It started losing size from about midday Saturday but by Sunday afternoon was almost completely gone. Fortunately a strong south swell (good 4-5ft sets at south facing beaches) dished up plenty of excellent waves under an offshore breeze on Sunday. And this morning still managed a few small peaky waves although it was a shell of its former self.

Which leads into the forecast for this week. Quite the contrast from Friday’s notes - we’re looking at tiny waves all week excluding a small short range S/SE swell on Friday. In brief, our swell window(s) are devoid of any major activity and will remain this way for several more days. A couple of peripheral features should stop the open beaches from becoming completely flat though. 

The first source is a long range southerly groundswell due on Tuesday. This will have originated from a strong but otherwise zonally aligned front that tracked south of the Tasman Sea yesterday. We’re looking at about half a metre of pure swell at fifteen seconds, which should translate to perhaps a stray 2ft wave at exposed south swell magnets during the day (don't be surprised if there's not much on show early morning). Newcastle often does particularly well under these flukey swells and may pick up another foot. Winds will be NW so conditions should be quite clean but for the most part it’s not worth working around.

Wednesday and Thursday will then see tiny residual energy across the coast. Another small series of cold fronts will clip Tasmania on Tuesday afternoon but they'll be completely aimed away from our swell window.

A more prominent southerly change is expected to advance along the South Coast later Thursday, and may kick up an average quality short range swell for Friday but at this stage I’m not holding my breath for anything notable. The models are a little mixed as to how this system will develop so we’ll have to wait and see whether there’s any merit in an early surf before the likely onshore winds kick in (a bumpy 3ft at south facing beaches seems the most plausible scenario right now). 

We could potentially see some more size on Friday as a deep low is expected to round the Tasmanian sector and into the lower Tasman Sea later Wednesday - linked in with Thursday's southerly change - and if this happens, it may provide some long period energy into the mix around the same time that the short range energy reaches a peak. However confidence is not yet high on what we’ll see, so don’t pencil anything into your diary just yet.

This weekend (Apr 26-27)

It’s a bit difficult to call the weekend forecast right now, as the models are disagreeing as to how the Southern Ocean storm track will develop later this week.

The weekend’s surf will invariably be an easing trend from whatever develops on Friday, and if one of the models eventuates (ECMWF) then there might actually be something to play with at south facing beaches on Saturday. However, all other solutions have small weak leftovers. Let’s take a closer look on Wednesday.

Next week (Apr 28 onwards)

Way too far out to have any great idea right now. On the whole, it seems we’re looking at some form of blocking pattern which would typically lead to a period of small surf,however there are some signals that the trade belt in the southern Coral Sea may kick up this weekend, leading to an increase in E’ly swell for the northern part of the state next week. Whether that translates to anything in the south remains to be seen. Anyway, Wednesday should have more clarity on that situation.