Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 10th February)
Best Days: No great days. Small flukey swells are expected all week. Sat morning looks the best right now with a peaky NE windswell and a S'ly wind change.
Recap: Easing SE swells and early light winds created some fun waves on Saturday morning before wave heights abated into the afternoon with freshening NE winds.
A new E’ly groundswell filled in on Sunday morning, generated by the remnants of last week’s impressive low (that generated the pumping swell Thurs/Fri). Most Sydney beaches seemed to pick up inconsistent but strong 3ft sets whilst a small NE windswell filled in the gaps with weak 1-2ft waves. Conditions were clean early but deteriorated from mid-morning onwards as winds freshened from the NE again.
This morning we’ve seen a similar combination of easing swells from the NE and E, however a gusty S’ly change pushed through in the early hours of the morning, and it’s blown out all open beaches (and also hasn’t generated any swell due to the trailing fetch being relatively weak and narrow). Southern corners and other beaches offering protection from these southerly winds therefore have the best conditions.
This week (Feb 11-14)
Nothing major on the cards for this week. We’ve got a couple of sources of new swell but wave heights will remain small and winds will remain generally onshore as a high develops in the Tasman Sea.
First up for Tuesday - we’ll see a small long period S’ly groundswell advance along the coast during the day, generated by a deepening low south of Tasmania over the weekend. Overall this system isn’t very well placed for East Coast surf prospects (solitary system with poor alignment, and its east trajectory is a little too fast) however we should see some sideband energy glance the coast throughout the day.
Many beaches will probably miss out completely (owing to the acute south direction) however exposed south swell magnets may pick up a handful of stray sets in the 2ft+ range at times, more likely into the afternoon. Light variable winds early will swing onshore throughout the day. There'll also be a small level of mixed short range energy in the water too, keeping the exposed beaches just rideable. Keep your expectations low.
Wednesday looks pretty average as well. If we’re lucky enough to see any new south swell late Tuesday afternoon, it may possibly linger into Wednesday morning but probably not much longer than that. Otherwise, we’re not expecting any new sources of swell and once again, early light variable winds early will swing onshore throughout the day. So don’t get your hopes up.
Thursday looks pretty dull on the whole, but we may see a second pulse of swell from the same low expected to provide a fleeting pulse later Tues/Wed. Unfortunately model guidance has pulled away from last Friday’s suggestion for a stalling fetch off the SW tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Instead, models briefly push the cut-off low up into a similar position around the same time, but with the fetch aimed less favourably towards the Australian coast (of which, GFS is most optimistic of the models). This may result in a brief pulse of SE groundswell in the 1-2ft+ range throughout Thursday but if it arrives, it’ll be incredibly inconsistent. Let’s assess Wednesday’s model output (and OSCAT observations) to see if the low performs better than currently forecast.
Also on Thursday, we’ll probably see a small short range E/NE swell in the water as well (originating from a weak fetch off the top of the Tasman high) but again, there won’t be much in it. So don’t get too excited about Thursday’s surf potential yet.
Friday looks marginally more interesting than the rest of the week, as a strengthening NE fetch just off the coast should whip up a small short range NE swell for exposed beaches. But winds will freshen from the north around the same time so quality will be low.
This weekend (Feb 15-16)
Lots of divergence between the models on the weekend’s wind and weather outlook right now. GFS maintains a ridge across the coast but ECMWF develops a surface low off the Far South Coast later Friday, driving a gusty S’ly change into Sydney by Saturday morning (in fact, GFS has a similar solution but not until Sunday night). Right now I’m leaning towards the EC solution, as it’s performed well over the last few weeks and seems to be resolving the forward trajectory of the cut off low below Tasmania the best. As such, expect a building S’ly swell - biggest very late Saturday or more likely early Sunday with sets in the 3-5ft range at exposed south facing beaches, and much smaller elsewhere due to the swell direction - with gusty S’ly winds for the most part.
Saturday morning should also see a peaky NE windswell in the 2-3ft range at exposed NE facing beaches, but easing steadily during the day.
Long term (Feb 17 onwards)
With the various computer models offering a range of possibilities over the weekend, the long term forecast into next week has a reduced level of confidence. But I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that we’ll see an amplifying upper trough east of Tasmania early in the week, with a series of deep polar lows projecting north-east and generating a sustained run of strong southerly groundswell for the East Coast during the middle to latter part of next week. There ya go. Let’s review on Wednesday.