South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 28th April)
Best Days: Tues/Wed: fun S/SE swell in Northern NSW. Sun: solid building south swell, best suited to Northern NSW. Next Mon/Tues/Wed: plenty of strong south swell for Northern NSW.
Recap: Small waves for much of the weekend, consisting of a minor trade swell and a small pulse of southerly swell across exposed beaches in Northern NSW. Building short range SE swell has padded out SE Qld and the Far North Coast today, with a moderate S'ly swell pushing along the Northern NSW Coast.
This week (Apr 29 - May 2)
Unfortunately the southerly groundswell originally forecast for Tuesday has been significantly downgraded.
The main reason for the downgrade is that the fetch strength around the low/front in the Tasman ended up being weaker than what the models were forecasting late last week. They also refocused their alignment more towards the NE (aimed further away from the East Coast) with the fetch sitting more across the central/eastern Tasman, rather than the central/western Tasman.
Still, we should see a building trend throughout the day - probably not until lunchtime in SE Qld - and exposed south swell magnets in Northern NSW should pick up the bigger waves with sets in the 3-4ft range (expect smaller surf elsewhere). Our model guidance is a little more optimistic than this but I’m cautious about this swell due to the massive swings over the last few days.
Surf size in SE Qld will be much smaller from this source (say, 2ft+ exposed beaches, smaller on the points as it peaks into the afternoon) however there'll still be some short range SE energy in the mix of a similar size, originating from the existing local pattern. So, there'll be some fun small waves on offer throughout Tuesday.
Wind wise, we’re expecting a mixed bag. SE Qld will see the lingering effects of a weakening ridge, which should mean a light SW airstream at dawn tending moderate SE then E/SE throughout the day.
Winds should be light and variable about much of the Northern NSW coast ahead of a freshening N/NE breeze in the afternoon, however there’s an axis point between the two (say between Byron and Yamba) where anything could happen - including a morning onshore. So I'm not totally confident for great waves on Tuesday in the Far North of the state right now.
Still, keep an eye on the local wind obs - northern corners (particularly across the Lower Mid North Coast) should be quite fun from about lunchtime onwards.
Steadily easing swells and freshening NW tending W’ly winds are expected on Wednesday, which should be primo for most of the open beaches in Northern NSW. Size will be a lot smaller in SE Qld owing to the southerly component in the swell direction, so aim for the swell magnets for the best waves.
Tiny surf is then expected for the rest of the week. A minor pulse of short range south swell is then modelled to push up along the Northern NSW coast on Thursday afternoon and Friday but there won’t be much size in it, just the odd 2ft+ set at the swell magnets, and not much elsewhere. Winds however should be generally favourable so it’s worth scouting around the open beaches for something rideable.
As for SE Qld, we’re really not expecting much in the way of decent surf for the second half of the working week so make the most of what’s on offer on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This weekend (May 3-4)
Since late last week, model guidance has been rather honed in on a major Tasman Low developing off the South Coast early this weekend. It’s still holding true but right now it’s hard to have total confidence in the likely size and timing of the resulting swell. Especially for SE Qld, which rarely picks up any swell from these kinds of weather systems due to the acute southerly direction.
Saturday’s looking to be mainly very small and windy with fresh offshore winds as the low develops off the South Coast, but Sunday’s on target for a reasonably solid increase in new south swell for the Northern NSW Coast that could reach 4-6ft at south facing beaches by the afternoon (with abating W’ly winds at the same time). However we'll see much smaller surf at locations not exposed to the south.
At this stage I’m not expecting much more than a foot or so across the bulk of SE Qld beaches however the region's handful of quality south swell magnets should pick up some 2-3ft sets at the height of the swell late Sunday.
Let’s check back on Wednesday to see how the models are resolving this system.
Longer term (May 5 onwards)
Sunday’s swell is likely to hold through Monday morning, before easing throughout the day. Looking beyond this, and there are a lot of fronts expected to back up across the SE corner of the country from the weekend onwards, in a classic winteresque pattern. This should ensure a steady supply of similar south swells right through most of next week.