Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast (issued Friday 25th April)

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thermalben started the topic in Friday, 25 Apr 2014 at 2:06pm

Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 25th April)

Best Days: Mon/Tues: strong building south swell with N’ly tending NW winds. Wed/Thurs: another medium south swell with good winds. 

Recap: Tiny waves Thurs. Building short range S/SE swell today with mainly onshore winds (although W/SW in the ‘Gong) tending light and variable around lunch, before swinging N/NE this arvo. Sets to 3-4ft at south facing beaches, smaller elsewhere.

This weekend (Apr 26-27)

Not much surf is expected for Saturday. Today’s southerly pulse is expected to be a short-lived affair and we’ll see freshening N’ly winds tending NW around the middle of the day as a vigorous low/front approaches from the west. There’ll probably be a small combo of tiny leftover S’ly swell and some meagre short range NE energy (from this afternoon's winds) but don’t get your hopes up.

A gusty southerly change is expected to push along the South Coast late in the day, reaching Sydney overnight - a little ahead of Wednesday’s predictions. This means we’re likely to see the peak of the resulting south swell a little earlier; probably around lunchtime on Sunday. The fetch trailing the change looks a little more robust too, so there should be some solid sets - probably in the 4-5ft range at south facing beaches, with smaller 2-3ft waves at locations not completely open to the south.

Winds will however be (mainly) fresh and gusty from the south, so expect choppy conditions at those locations picking up the most size. Winds will start to ease in the afternoon and veer more SE in direction but the chances of any worthwhile conditions is very low, away from the protected corners. There’s a low chance for a very brief window of SW winds at dawn - mainly along the Northern Beaches - but I’m not especially confident that it’ll eventuate.

Next week (Apr 28-April 2)

We’ve got some great waves on the cards for Monday and Tuesday. As discussed on Wednesday’s notes, the weekend’s southerly change will be linked to a deep, intense low pressure system just to the S/SE of Tasmania. This looks like it’ll be quite a beast of a weather system, initially located right on the western periphery of our acute south swell window; but the good news is that there’s a general agreement between the models for a N/NE track up into the southern Tasman Sea through the weekend.

We’re looking at two phases of swell from this system - an initial pulse of small long range southerly swell Monday morning, ahead of a bigger, stronger pulse late afternoon across the Sydney and Hunter coasts (arriving earlier south of Sydney).

The first pulse should be worthy of 3-4ft surf at south facing beaches (smaller elsewhere) but the second pulse should deliver strong 4-6ft waves at south facing beaches, reaching 6-8ft at a handful of the region’s more reliable swell magnets and offshore bombies. Also, the Hunter coast normally picks up bigger surf from these systems so I’d expect solid 6-8ft surf in this region at the height of the swell (close to dark Monday or early Tuesday).

Winds are looking good for south swell magnets too during this time. A building ridge of high pressure in the western Tasman and an approaching front from the western states will swing winds around to a light N’ly on Monday, and freshening N/NW winds on Tuesday will swing NW during the day ahead of a gusty W’ly change early Wednesday

The only concern I have is that the bulk of this swell is expected to arrive under the cover of darkness on Monday night. So if you have to maximise your time (and the peak of this swell), aim for a very late surf Monday or an early surf Tuesday. I’ll update my thoughts on this in more detail Monday but overall we’re on track for some very good waves at locations that enjoy the south swell/north wind combo.

Easing southerly swells will then take hold of the region from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. Fresh and gusty W’ly winds will occupy the middle of the week. 

Wednesday’s change will be associated with another vigorous front/low passage but at this stage it seems that its swell potential will be reduced (size, duration) due to the the fetch’s short time within our swell window. As such we’re looking at a short range increase in punchy south swell later Wednesday and early Thursday (say, 3-5ft south facing beaches?) however it’ll probably ease rapidly through Thursday afternoon and Friday.

Longer term (April 3 onwards)

Looking further ahead, and it seems we’ve got a steady supply of these winteresque front/low combos across the Tasmanian region for the foreseeable future. We’re on track for a similar round of south swell on Saturday and there are more systems backing up behind that too for the start of the following week. So, get familiar with your friendly south swell magnet as it’s going to get a good workout over the next couple of weeks. 

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Friday, 25 Apr 2014 at 6:09pm

Some major swings in this afternoons model run updates (after this forecast was written) that could have a strong bearing on the south swell expected next Mon/Tues - in short, it's been significantly downgraded by at least one model. However the models have been somewhat up and down for the last two or three days, so I'll give it another day or so to sort itself out. But for now.. hold off on any major road trip early next week.

donweather's picture
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donweather commented Friday, 25 Apr 2014 at 6:29pm

Yes i saw that before I read your report this afternoon and was surprised to see the figures you were quoting for Tuesday.

Also, GFS seems to be the leader at the moment with the other models following suit.

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blindboy commented Friday, 25 Apr 2014 at 7:15pm

If you were playing 2 up this afternoon I hope you won. There were some clean 3ft fun waves happening with about a quarter of the usual crowd!

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evosurfer commented Friday, 25 Apr 2014 at 7:35pm

I just hate it when swells get down graded. The only one that has not been down graded
and im in Bali. ARHHHHH

IF im not surfing im racing

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Blowin commented Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 at 7:48am

Must be hell. No waves in Bali , or Indonesia for that matter.

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evosurfer commented Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 at 12:08pm

No the swell got up to 8ft maybe 10ft but I live ware I live for swells like the one I just missed.

IF im not surfing im racing

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mitchvg commented Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 at 1:44pm

thermalben wrote:

Some major swings in this afternoons model run updates (after this forecast was written) that could have a strong bearing on the south swell expected next Mon/Tues - in short, it's been significantly downgraded by at least one model. However the models have been somewhat up and down for the last two or three days, so I'll give it another day or so to sort itself out. But for now.. hold off on any major road trip early next week.

As far as I can tell, Mon - Tues is still looking solid along the Hunter and a window of light winds post to pre frontal and a cooler airmass... what's the downgrade? A position &/or timing, or strength?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 at 1:48pm

Strength and size (and also a timing adjustment). I'll wait until this afternoon's 00Z run to make another call and will then revise after tomorrow's 00Z run too. 

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kanethomas1 commented Saturday, 26 Apr 2014 at 2:22pm

off Tuesday was very excited now we will have to wait and see what happens

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welcomeguest commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 6:44am

i reckon monday, tuesday in Sydney looking flat....ish

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thermalben commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 6:54am

Flat? Erm, no.

Basically the entire weather progression (the low S/SE of Tasmania tracking N/NE through the lower Tasman Sea) has been shifted eastward over the last few model runs, by about 5-10 degrees. And it's been slightly downgraded in strength too. So it's now pushing through the eastern Tasman rather than the western Tasman - which means the swell won't be aimed anywhere near as directly towards the NSW coast as it previously was.

This will peg back wave heights by a couple of feet off my Wed/Fri predictions, although there will still be some great waves at south facing beaches as winds are still looking to be the same.

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welcomeguest commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:08am

sweet

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:36am

I still can't believe this is fecking autumn!!! No real waves to speak of for over 2 weeks in Autumn FFS!!!! This is almost unheard of.

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shoredump commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 8:32am

March and April last year were crap for Autumn ECLs & South swells, & even trades, in this area. It was end of May before we got some consistency, & then we went on a great run through June. The middle of Spring was firing again, south swell after swell on the East coast, though nothing real big, or sexy, & at that time the Indian Ocean was going bananas. Last year the middle of Spring, October, was better than the middle of Autumn, April. We just had a good run of swell didn't we? And another to come? I'd rate this Autumn better than last years on the back of next weeks forecast already. It's an interesting theory that is occasionally floated around, that the seasons are lagging behind the calendar, one worth keeping an eye on. Spring is the new Autumn, maybe.

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 8:55am

First weekend in May pumped last year SD. Trust me I surf every year in the first weekend in may and I cannot recall such a dismal looking forecast for this first weekend in may.

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Sheepdog commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 9:42am

Now now, Donweather..... You've had a pretty good run..... Luci's 15 seconds ;)..... Mike's 15 seconds ;)...... And a little storm that touched up qld, and then merged with a southern low hehehehehe.... 2007/2008/2009 didn't look overly impressive at a quick glance on BOM's archival loop.... 2009 is only 5 years ago.... Not ancient history....
I wouldn't write off this weeks south swell.... Sunny coast wont score much.... maybe a pulse at * ***, ********, *******, and *******........But you're in NNSW, right?..... Tuesday morning..... Winds look lighter..... You might bump into free ride near the cow paddocks ;)
ps- I've dropped a few hints to you recently re' N NZ....... Steady tropical action NE of there for past 2 months.... Looks very "early el nino ish' "......
pps - Another very interesting southern low predicted next weekend......
ppps - those little ene Ita noosa sliders are looking better and better for noosa folk now, aye.... Give it 3 more weeks and they'll be begging for it hehehehe.....

Sheepdog

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 2:31pm

SD, I'm not chasing big cyclone swells. May is notorious for producing some clean good fun surf with two swell windows usually rather active (east and south). As I said, we've been going this time every year for some time and we've scored some damn good waves. Looking at the archive data I have access to, I agree 2007 was a very bad start to May. 2006 wasn't much better. But other than that, for the first 6 days in May since 2008 onwards and pre 2006 the swell hasn't dropped below 3ft and it peaked at 6-8ft in 2011. Average swell heights look to be between 3 and 5ft during this time (excluding 2006 and 2007). If it was easier to post pictures on here then I'd show you the swell archive history.

Anyway, I'm crossing all my fingers and toes that the latest GFS model comes to fruition for early May 2014, although it won't take much at all for the fetch to go the way of the latest EC model and become very zonal, sending all the swell away from the east coast.

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Sheepdog commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 2:34pm

You are in NNSW? I see a bit of a pulse coming up the coast now, thanks to your link a while ago......

Sheepdog

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 2:40pm

SD, I live in SE Qld, but my May surfari takes me to locations further south than here.

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welcomeguest commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 2:51pm
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Sheepdog commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 3:12pm

Don, welcome's photo looks good...... Have a look at your nsw buoy links, just coming into Coffs now.....

Sheepdog

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shoredump commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:54pm

Don't get me wrong Don, I agree this is a below par Autumn so far. I just think last year, out of 90 days, there were probably only a dozen good ones. so last year maybe even worse? You expect 3-4 good days a week by April / May. I remember that early May swell now, had some quality to it, and I was working dawn to dusk through the whole thing. There have been some magic Mays, it's my favourite month, 10-12 years ago there was one that had 2ft minimum & offshore every single (part of) day. May was often the best month of the year, water temps and all considered. I can tell you May 22 has been crap for a long time, here, because I've been taking it off for my birthday for 20 years. Except last year there was a South swell, but I had booked a flight to the Gold Coast months in advance. Typical. Still I can't complain as I've scored one of the best waves of my life on my bday in the early days.
It used to be that Winter was the prime season with Autumn being the second most consistent. Plenty of good waves were always on offer in Spring, but with November being a write off, it was definitely in Autumns shadow. But I reckon there's been a shift lately, Ben will tell me a couple years does not make a trend, but I'm calling Spring now comes in second to Winter, with Autumn the third most consistent. March has nothing these days, but I guess I'm a south swell event kind of guy and that's how I judge them. Anyone else think there is a trend starting where Autumn is contracting & Spring is kicking on further than previous decades?
Don how far South do you do your wave hunting? I'm guessing the Mid North Coast region?

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wellymon commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 6:09pm

I kind of agree with you Shoredumpo, I have seen seasons become later.
I.E the snow in NZ and even up here on the Goldie.
Right now I would have the fire cranking at night but she's still warm, sleeping with just a sheet on top still......Well my golden cape :)
But like Don has explained she's been a very limited autumn here for waves.
Saying that, lets hope in the next few months to come, some ECL's with westerlies, we never really know do we........? Thats the fun of it right.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:07pm

Shore dump thanks for the info. I tend to keep my surfing destinations close to my chest. Lets just say I'm hoping that either GFS or EC come to fruition but I'm not counting my chickens yet as the model reliability is shot. Just look at this swell for Mon-wed this week. Still bouncing around a bit.

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donweather commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:07pm

And yes as I've said before. I believe the seasons are def getting later.

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Sheepdog commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 7:09pm

Nah, shoredump, welly..... The seasons aint later...... Snowing yesterday, a good dusting all over adamsons peak behind my house, and same deal looking down to Southport..... definitely Autumn here.......
Just getting old, boys...... An aging mind can play tricks........ We all remember "classic swells". But flat spells years ago get "deleted".... And trust me.... There were flat spells, even in the "old days"..... 78 Stubbies comes to mind, as does the time they had to move the "surfabout"......
ps - "society" has "moved" the seasons to make them "fit in"...... True summer doesn't start on Dec 1st..... It actually starts on the solstice..... Autumn on the equinox, winter starts on the winter solstice, and spring on the equinox.... Perhaps this situation gives the "impression" that the seasons start later.....

Sheepdog

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shoredump commented Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 at 8:04pm

It would be easy to measure and prove actually. Just run those BoM models and compare when the highs and lows move into their seasonal latitudes, and also if it's more or less extreme in how far up and down they travel.
Your probably right Sheepy, I've seen pics of me from the 80's running down to the surf frothing, over what I'd call 2ft slop now. I'm forty this birthday surf. Getting old.

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mitchvg commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 12:14am

Thanks TB

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wellymon commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 6:38am

1203m Sheepio with a dusting, that'll be melted now ;)

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

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thermalben commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 6:44am

shoredump wrote: It would be easy to measure and prove actually. Just run those BoM models and compare when the highs and lows move into their seasonal latitudes, and also if it's more or less extreme in how far up and down they travel.
The problem is it's not 'easy' to 'run those BoM models'. You are however definitely on the right track.
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thermalben commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 6:51am

Righto - Sunday's ASCAT passes came back and it's really not looking that great for swell prospects, mainly regarding the second pulse of swell that was due in later today and overnight/early tomorrow morning.

At this stage I think we'll be lucky to see 3-4ft at south facing beaches from it.. the fetch was wound back considerably from the model runs late last week, and also refocused in alignment more towards the NE (aimed further away from the East Coast).

In hindsight, it wasn't so much a major downgrade by the model, but rather that this system was only ever positioned on the periphery of our swell window - so it only took a minor tweak in its alignment to significantly impact the surf outlook.

Will be interesting to watch the surfcams today. So far our surf forecast model has it about spot on - looks to be about 2ft at south facing beaches in Sydney. 

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freeride76 commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 8:31am

May 2007 was unusually flaccid and warm ....but that was followed by the best winter in memory, with seven ECL's, including the pasha bulker swell.
That was a transition into Nina Year, whereas this is the opposite. But here's hoping that leftover warm water off the NSW S coast gets a few storms bombing over it.

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stunet commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 8:49am

Seven ECLs?? Coulda sworn it was four, though someone recently said it was six, and now it's grown again to seven.

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freeride76 commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 8:53am

Six is the official BOM count with five in June alone.
http://www.bom.gov.au/nsw/sevwx/facts/events/june-07-ecl/index.shtml#sum...
They don't count the hybrid system which formed off Fraser in August and which provided a week of six feet surf at the Superbank.
That makes seven.

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stunet commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 8:56am

Won't argue with the BOM. But whether six or seven, it was the best run of swell I can ever remember. 

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freeride76 commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 9:01am

aye to that and it came with offshores and perfect sandbanks.

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rusty-moran commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 11:38am

No sign of the long period acute south swell yet in the Illawarra. There's been a couple of foot of weak 9-10 second stuff only. Anything up in the hunter?

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thermalben commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 12:32pm

Can't see it happening today unfortunately Rusty.. it's been majorly downgraded.

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rusty-moran commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 12:40pm

That's a relief!

These school holidays have been jam packed with 2-3 foot waves for my youngest Grom, 2-4 foot for the older Grom and even a couple of sneaky sessions for myself. Absolutely waterlogged.

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mitchvg commented Monday, 28 Apr 2014 at 12:41pm

Eden buoy's spectral analysis has got a discrete groundswell... 1.4m @ 12sec.
I think Byron is offline though.