Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast by Craig Brokensha (issued Monday 17th February)
Best Days: Tuesday morning, Thursday morning, Sunday afternoon, Monday morning
The weekend started off slow with a small NE windswell to 1-2ft on a full tide and light variable winds. The swell kicked slowly in size during the day and reached 2-3ft into the afternoon as moderate NE winds kicked in.
Sunday morning offered the best waves with a clean, glassy 2-3ft of NE swell under light variable winds. A moderate to fresh S'ly change hit just after midday, bringing with it a weak increase in S'ly windswell that has peaked this morning to an average 2-3ft across south facing beaches.
This week (Feb 17 - 21)
Yesterday's S'ly change and today's weak windswell was generated by a weak trough moving off the Southern NSW Coast last night, with a burst of strong S'ly winds pushing up into us.
This system is slowly moving over towards New Zealand, but was still aiming a weak fetch of S'ly winds though our southern swell window this morning, keeping fun waves hitting the coast through tomorrow morning.
Winds will be a little dicey and may linger from the east, but a more variable breeze is likely before fresh NE sea breezes kick in. So get in early for the biggest and best waves.
Give the surf a miss Wednesday as the swell will bottom out under with winds from the northern quadrant.
Afternoon sea breezes from the NE Wednesday afternoon and evening should kick up a little NE windswell for Thursday morning but not above 2ft across north-east facing beaches. Conditions will be good though with an offshore W/SW breeze ahead of a weak S'ly change during the afternoon that will linger from the S/SE into Friday with small to tiny amounts of swell.
This weekend onwards (Fed 22 onwards)
There's plenty of swell on the cards for the weekend and this will be associated with an inland surface trough drifting in from South Australia, feeding off a deep pool of cold air over Tasmania, resulting in the formation of a deep and powerful low pressure system off Tassie's South East Coast.
The good thing about this system is that it will stall within our swell window for 2-3 days producing various pulses of S'ly swell from Saturday through Monday next week.
The down side is that the positioning is still a little up in the air and if the system stalls just a fraction more west than forecast (illustrated right), Tassie will cut the swell producing fetch in half and we'll see a smaller amount of swell.
At this stage we're likely to see medium levels of S'ly swell from Saturday through Sunday but winds will be less than ideal and from the southern quadrant as a weak trough spawns off the low and moves up the Southern NSW Coast Saturday.
Later Sunday may be worth a look as winds ease in the wake of the trough and tend E/NE, but Monday will be the day to surf with light morning offshores from the W/NW.
Check back Wednesday for an update on the positioning of the low and expected size over the weekend.
The latest model update has shifted the low a little further west and more over Tassie which is less favourable for us but on the plus side it has strengthened the system.
So the initial stages of the lows developments are average as seen below..
But once it moves east it is looking stronger and still good for the Southern NSW Coast...
Watch this space.
Moving closer to the event and it looks like most of the models are holding this low further west and mainly out of our swell window when it is at its strongest.
This will cut the fetch in half with a smaller pulse of actute S'ly swell due Saturday off a fetch of W/SW gales exiting Eastern Bass Strait from the northern flank of the low (illustrated below), along with some weaker S'ly windswell.
All is not lost though, as the low is expected to be pushed to the east by a polar front pushing up from below Tassie, and this will provide a much better pulse of S'ly groundswell for Sunday (possibly showing later Saturday) and Monday (shown below) along with more favourable local winds.