Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 3rd February)
Best Days: Friday: should see a decent SE groundswell. Sun/Mon: Solid E/NE swell on the cards.
Recap: Mainly small peaky short range E/NE swell all weekend across the southern NSW coast. Most beaches held out in the 1-2ft range and although winds were mainly onshore, they were generally light in strength so conditions were reasonable. A new E’ly groundswell filled into the NSW coast this morning, and it’s providing bigger waves across most beaches around 2-3ft. However moderate NE winds are making conditions a little bumpy.
This week (Feb 4-7)
The current E’ly groundswell will tail off on Tuesday, but this afternoon’s freshening nor’easters will build a small windswell for the morning session (maybe some 2-3ft sets at swell magnets if you're lucky). Tuesday’s surf will be all about the timing though as a gusty S’ly change is expected mid-late morning. Fortunately protected southern ends will both offer the most size and cleanest conditions into the afternoon (the change will whip up a short range S’ly swell late in the day, but without any quality).
Wednesday looks a little drab. The previous E’ly and NE swells will be but a distant memory and we’ll have a predominant S/SE swell in the water originating from the fetch trailing Tuesday’s change. However winds look to be mainly onshore due to a strong ridge across the coast. There won’t be any shortage of size (~3-4ft, biggest at south facing beaches) so perhaps wait until the afternoon as winds speeds should start to throttle back as the ridge weakens.
As for the second half of the week, we’ve still got a cut-off low expected to form in the lower Tasman Sea, in the wake of Tuesday’s change. Model data is a little divergent on exactly where the low will form, and what trajectory it’ll take - but there seems to be a general agreement that we’ll see a decent kick in SE groundswell late Thursday or more likely sometime early Friday. Our model is not picking up this swell very well at the moment (as the GFS model isn’t resolving the low properly), so at this stage I’d expect to see higher surf than what the forecast graphing showing - quite possibly 4-5ft out of the SE. But I’ll look at this in more detail on Wednesday. For now keep Friday pencilled in to your diary.
This weekend (Feb 8-9)
The weekend looks OK for waves at this point in time. Friday’s SE groundswell will ease through Saturday and winds look like they’ll be light early, freshening from the NE during the day.
Sunday has some very interesting possibilities on the cards, by way of a couple of developing low pressure systems within an active monsoon trough throughout the Coral Sea. We’re likely to see one or two of these systems track southwards later this week, and interact with a building high pressure ridge across the northern Tasman Sea. This will strengthen easterly winds in Sydney’s primo E/NE swell window, and the resulting swell should start to fill in around Sunday.
Current model data is suggesting some pretty solid waves from this system, although there is some disagreement between the models right now so we’ll have to wait for the updated forecasts throughout the week. But right now it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll see a great round of summer swell later this weekend.
Next week (Feb 10 onwards)
Sunday’s swell is expected to peak on Monday, with size possibly as high as 4-6ft at exposed spots, before we see an easing trend into Tuesday.
The good news is that we’re expecting a very slow moving synoptic pattern for the long term period, dominated by a broad belt of easterly winds just north-east of New Zealand. Although quite some distance from the mainland, the sheer size and strength of these winds should allow for plenty of background swell across the East Coast for much of next week.
Additionally, the active monsoon trough in the Coral Sea will continue to spin up small systems (some of which may even reach TC strength) that will only enhance the pre-existing easterly fetch - and therefore keep potential wave heights up from the climatological average. So today’s take home message is: we’ve got a extended period of great waves in store for much of the East Coast. Tune back in on Wednesday for a little more detail.
All looks like Friday to the end of the weekend hold some promise.
Have to say though Ben that your WAMS bear so little relation to the synoptic situation that I find it unintelligible. Long period swells making their way up the west coast of NZ with nothing really creating it, nothing particularly impressive looking for the east coast in terms of period and size even though the synoptic, and your comments, indicate that we have some reason for optimism.
Me, I tend to stick to the synoptic charts, they'll do me, significant wave height and wave period and then extrapolating that to a beach site seems to me to be equivalent to taking a two step process and turning it into a 4 step, add the number you first thought of and then subtract your street address and your dog's name type formula.
It seems to add more information and dilute knowledge. I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks that?
WAMS have always been that way B+K. Hence why I don't use 'em, and never have. But, lots of people love the colourful blobs and it's easy for us to output the charts, as we're already doing all of the legwork in running the wave model in the first place.
Cheers Ben, that makes me feel better, FWIW. :-).
See my comments on your update, swell size jumped quite a bit today.