Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 14th February)
Best Days: Saturday, early Sunday: small peaky NE swell. Thurs/Fri/Sat: solid south swell.
Recap: Hardly any surf over the last few days, with most beaches seeing weak lines of swell of a foot or less.
This weekend (Feb 15-16)
Most open beaches should have some small peaky waves on tap on Saturday, but quality will be lacking. A strengthening NE fetch between a Tasman high an a broad inland trough of low pressure is kicking up a new short range swell that’s expected to provide 2-3ft surf at NE facing beaches throughout the day. For the most part winds will be out of the north (maybe a brief window of light variable winds at dawn) so many locations will become quite bumpy during the day, but at least there’ll be waves. Winds may also veer more N/NW into the afternoon so keep an eye out for this as it’ll help to clean up conditions.
The surface trough will spawn a small low pressure system east of Bass Strait overnight on Saturday, and this will drive a gusty southerly change across the southern NSW coast during Sunday. Computer models have slowed the arrival of this change in Sydney until the early afternoon, so prior to then we’re looking at small residual NE windswell (2ft+ at exposed beaches early, easing during the day) with light variable winds, probably NW. It looks like the change may arrive too late to generate any respectable increase in local southerly windswell, however keep an eye on the obs south of Sydney in case it pushes through faster than expected.
Either way, keep your expectations low and you’ll pick up a few bumpy bowly sections throughout Saturday and early Sunday.
Next week (Feb 17-21 onwards)
Sunday’s developing low east of Tasmania will spin up two separate south swells for southern NSW, both of which will be rather insignificant. The late southerly change on Sunday will see a rapid increase in shorty range windswell for Monday morning, however of more interest is a fetch of 25-30kt S'ly winds expected to develop just off Tasmania’s east coast on Sunday. This will deliver a brief, but better quality S’ly groundswell for Monday afternoon up in the 3ft range at south facing beaches.
However, local winds look like they’ll spoil the party for most of Monday, remaining fresh and gusty from the south. With some luck we’ll see the southerly airstream abate throughout Monday afternoon, allowing an improvement in surface conditions for the late session as the groundswell component moves into the region.
The low responsible for Monday’s swell is expected to track rapidly south-east after forming on Sunday, which will reduce the size and longevity of any swell it generates. As such, Tuesday will see small residual swells across open beaches with light winds tending NE as a new high builds in the Tasman Sea.
As for Wednesday - it looks like we’ll see a repeat of our weekend’s weather pattern, with an approaching trough from the west spinning up a low off the South Coast during the day. This should give rise to a small peaky NE windswell throughout Wednesday ahead of a return southerly swell developing throughout Thursday.
In fact, the latest model guidance suggests the system developing in the Tasman Sea mid-next week will be significantly stronger than what we’re expecting this weekend, and could occupy the region for a day or two. Such a scenario would give rise to a solid and potentially large south swell (sometime between Thursday and Friday, easing Saturday). Let’s check back on Monday to see how the models are tracking these developments.
Long range (Feb 22 onwards)
At the moment, next weekend will probably be on the backside of the (expected) large south swell due to be in the water around Friday. Beyond that there’s nothing of any interest standing out in the long range charts.