South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 21st April)
Best Days: No great days. Maybe a small trade swell for the beachies in SE Qld from late Thurs thru' the weekend but nothing great is likely just now. Next week: Better chance for a more robust E'ly swell.
Recap: Large SE swell to 8-10ft at exposed spots across the Mid North on Saturday, reaching 6-8ft at exposed spots in Northern NSW. Much of the SE Qld region saw considerably smaller waves (i.e. 3ft points) but exposed locations with good southerly exposure saw bigger surf in the 4-5ft range. Rapidly easing SE swell on Sunday but with a building S’ly swell across south facing beaches in Northern NSW. Very small residual swells today.
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 thru’ SE groundswells we’ve seen in many years plonked right in the middle. For the data junkies, it’s worth nothing that peak swell periods registered in the 20 second range at the Sydney wave buoy overnight on Friday, which is unheard of (in my experience) for groundswells originating from the eastern quadrant.
Wave heights reached 10ft across many locations on Saturday between the Mid North Coast and the Far South NSW Coast, with smaller 6-8ft surf in Northern NSW and smaller waves again in SE Qld. The Northern NSW and SE Qld region's been on a steady downwards trajectory since about Saturday afternoon (interspersed by a temporary flush of south swell at south facing beaches in Northern NSW on Sunday).
The rapid easing trend of the last few days is a sign of the week to come - unfortunately we’re looking at tiny waves all week. The trades have retreated north into a position typical of winter, which means very small residual east energy all week in SE Qld, and not much surf at all in Northern NSW.
That being said, one small source of new swell may appear on Tuesday afternoon at south swell magnets across the Mid North and Northern NSW Coasts. 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 1-2ft wave at exposed south swell magnets during the afternoon and into Wednesday morning. Winds will be out of the northern quadrant so aim for a northern corner for the most size and cleanest conditions. And keep your expectations low.
Wednesday afternoon and Thursday will then see tiny residual energy across much of the coast.
Thursday afternoon and Friday may see a small building trade swell from a slight muscling up of the trades south of New Caledonia throughout the middle of the week. No great size is expected however 2ft+ sets are plausible across the Sunshine Coast, a little smaller on the Gold Coast and probably not much at all south of about Ballina. I'll revise these nuumbers in the Wednesday update.
Elsewhere, a southerly change is expected to push along the southern NSW coast late Thursday that may kick up a small swell for that neck of the woods on Friday. At this stage it’s not expected to be very strong so it’s unlikely that we’ll see much influence north of Seal Rocks, but I’ll take a closer look at this on Wednesday incase the models shift in our favour.
This weekend (Apr 26-27)
Nothing great on the cards at this early stage. A very slow and small upwards trend from the previously discussed late-week trade swell is possible over the weekend, so perhaps add another half to one foot on top of Friday’s figures if your beach has good easterly exposure (don't they all in SE Qld?).
This synoptic pattern would also suggest very little activity for the Mid North and greater Northern NSW Coasts as well, however I’ll be keeping a close eye on the models and the way they resolve the Southern Ocean forecast track for later this week. Because if we see a bigger-than-modeled-south-swell on Friday, then there’ll be lingering effects into Saturday - which could very well influence south swell magnets south of the NSW/Qld border. Still, don't get excited about the weekend’s surf prospects at this stage.
Next week (Apr 28 onwards)
Way too far out to have any great level of confidence right now. However there are some signals that the trade belt in the southern Coral Sea may reinvigorate itself this weekend in a much greater capacity, leading to an increase in punchy short range E’ly swell for much of next week. Anyway, Wednesday should have more clarity on that situation.