South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 17th February)
Best Days: Sat/Sun/Mon: plenty of good waves on the points in SE Qld and Northern NSW.
Recap: Small, poor quality waves in most areas over the weekend with northerly winds creating choppy conditions.
A brisk southerly change pushed across the Northern NSW Coast overnight, arriving in SE Qld this morning. However its currently stalled just east of Brisbane and is not likely to affect the Sunshine Coast (at the time of writing, winds at Maroochydore were still N/NE at 15-20kts and 10-15kts at Moreton Island; the S'ly arrived at Cooly around 5am).
There’s a small NE windswell in the water at exposed locations today (mainly in SE Qld), however it’s all weak, locally generate stuff. Plotting the Tweed wave buoy data against the Coolangatta wind data shows that as soon as the northerly flow receded around midnight, wave heights abated rapidly (Hsig has dropped from 1.8m at midnight to 0.8m at midday). So, there’s nothing of interest for surfers even though local conditions have improved.
In Northern NSW, a small southerly windswell developed behind the change but it hasn’t generated much more than a couple of feet of low quality surf at exposed beaches.
This week (Feb 18-21)
Nothing to get excited about this week at all. The weather charts are void of any major activity, so we’re looking at small residual swells across all regions until the weekend at least.
A deep low formed east of Tasmania on Sunday but it’s tracking SE at a speed too fast to generate any notable swell. A broad trough of low pressure between Fiji and New Zealand has a modest E’ly fetch but it’s not broad nor strong enough to warrant much more than a couple of feet of easterly swell mid-week.
In any case, developing northerly winds will create poor conditions at most locations Tuesday and Wednesday. A developing low pressure system just off Tasmania’s East Coast on Wednesday will drive a southerly change along the East Coast on Thursday, probably arriving along the Mid North Coast in the morning, reaching the Northern Rivers late afternoon and the SE Qld overnight into Friday. The fetch trailing this change will initially be thin and not particularly strong, so no major swell is expected in its wake.
This weekend (Feb 22-23)
The low developing close to Tasmania looks like it’ll be a beast, kicking up some seriously large surf for exposed parts of the southern states later this week. However, southerly groundswells are never favourable for Queensland waters and low pressure systems positioned this far back inside the swell window rarely produce any rideable energy for anything but the most exposed locations.
That being said, the size and strength of this low looks like it might overcome a few of the deficiencies of its location, and Northern NSW is likely to pick up some well defined lines of energy.
Long period southerly swell is expected to track along the southern NSW coast overnight on Friday, due to reach the northern NSW coast on Saturday morning and the NSW/Qld border around lunchtime.
Winds aren’t looking great for northern NSW (mainly fresh S/SE as a ridge builds along the coast) and SE Qld looks like it’ll have a more local source of swell in the water anyway - but it’s worth nothing this system for surf potential, in the event the models ease back the strength of the ridge over the coming days (some exposed south swell magnets in Northern NSW could see 4-5ft surf from this long range source).
Of much more interest - especially for Queensland surfers - is the building of a strong ridge through the Coral Sea over the weekend. This will return the region to a much more climatically average pattern of punchy trade swells and good point waves. At this stage we should see a steady upwards trend into the 3-4ft range across the open Gold and Sunshine Coast beaches (with smaller surf on the points) on Saturday, reaching a peak throughout Sunday. It'll be breezey with fresh and gusty S/SE winds, but this won't be a problem at most of the breaks set up for such conditions.
Expect smaller surf from this trade source as you track southwards away from the Qld/NSW border. However there should be enough size for some small runners on the open North Coast points. South of Coffs, we’ll be hoping that the local winds are much lighter as there won’t be much trade swell here and we’ll be replying on the weekend’s long range southerly groundswell for most of our surfing activity.
Next week (Feb 24 onwards)
Next Monday and maybe Tuesday look like they’ll maintain plenty of trade swell in the 3-4ft range for SE Qld, with smaller surf as you head south of the border. This is pretty much standard fare for this time of year, so get ready for an extended run of activity across the various points that enjoy these kinds of conditions.
Also worth nothing that following the development of the deep low east of Tasmania (this Wednesday), a series of powerful fronts will track through the Tasman Sea, setting up a sustained period of strong southerly groundswell (on the North Coast) for the first half of next week too. I'll update this in more details on Wednesday.
Did you just literally downgrade the tradewind swell forecast for early next week Ben? I could have sworn I just read (before I refreshed this page) you were forecasting 3-5ft for early next week in SE Qld and I was just about to comment that I thought 5ft seemed a wee bit optimistic!!!
Jeez you're quick! I usually punch out the forecast notes, and then edit it once it's live (not a good way to do things, I confess) and yeah: I had 3-5ft initially which I pulled back to 3-4ft.
I'm suprised the current S->SSE swell doesn't get a better mention here.
Eden bouy is hovering over 2m and 10sec, would thought that was worth a mention into the 2-3ft range in nth NSW tomorrow?
Eden is a long way from Northern NSW. In any case I wouldn't be trusting its output at the moment.. looks like it needs a service and tuneup.
However, there will be a few small peaky waves around the North Coast tomorrow and winds should be light in the morning before the nor'easter kicks in later. My reasoning for not mentioning anything was that I'm trying to focus the written reports on the 'interesting' parts of the forecast (rather than paragraphs on each and every little fetch that crops up in the model data).
For a small mid range south swell, the energy you see in Sydney one day is (generally) what you'll see on the North Coast the next day. Because of the way Sydney performed today (average quality sets up to 3ft at south facing beaches, bigger in the Hunter), it's not really significant enough to warrant much size north of Seal Rocks, especially with the source of the swell being mainly south of Sydney.
Sydney buoy data is pretty uninteresting too, with periods hovering in the 7-8 seconds - a boring swell that probably won't turn on the magic anywhere. So with much more interesting things to discuss, I concentrated on the weekend outlook.
Hope that makes sense!
Haha yeah I know it is, I have a habit of extrapolating that cos it's actually in the water. I guess it hasn't really done much when checking against the Sydney reports. Anyway, you're probably right. The Byron graph has swapped colours too
Yeah to be honest, I'm just frothing on the slight chance of 2ft E sets + 2ft S sets = some magical wedges
Also, some really rough calculations - it's around 1,000 kms from the Far South Coast to the Far North Coast. A swell period in the 10 second range is travelling at around 27km/hr.
So a 10 second swell will take around 37 hours to travel from the Eden buoy to the Far North Coast. That's just over day and a half - so if you're referring to the 10 second swell energy at the buoy between midnight and 6am this morning (and you're confident the buoy is recording its size, period and direction accurately) then you'd expect to see this same energy in the water sometime between midday and 6pm tomorrow.
Of course, this makes some very broad assumptions but it's a useful technique to estimate arrivals of long period swell energy between buoys and beaches.
Hmmm OK a few solid nuggs of info there, cheers. I think I got the general gist of the charts now, and after talking to some of the locals (the mid morning crew doubled to about 50 at the same rate as the swell ticked up a touch more (as forecast by WAMS)) focussing on the interesting stuff is a good balance.
On the North Coast?
Definitely over achieved here on the North Coast S swell magnets.
Over achieved relative to what you were expecting Steve?
Because the models had 3ft at south facing beaches from midday into this evening, and watching the Coffs cam looks 2-3ft or so.
S magnets here were three to four feet by lunch-time.
Late arvo rockfishing and there was a strong S swell signal in the four ft plus range.
Yes, I frequent FR Freeride's parish. And I couldn't disagree with him.
You must be knee high to grass hopper free, drove past it at lunch on my way back to bal and that wasn't 3-4, I call it by real measurement, you know 3 foot is a metre, get a tape out and see where it ends up of the floor
gromfull wrote: get a tape out and see where it ends up of the floor
Your point is, does that make the waves bigger or smaller
Still doesn't make what I watched anywhere near 4ft
You drove past it GRom, I surfed it just before lunch on the first of the run-out. Then rockfished an exposed ledge from five till dark.
Confident in what I surfed, saw and was exposed to.
It was more than was expected.
Just one of those freaky little S swells that sometimes do unexpected things.
btw, if you only saw what was visible from the Coast Road and didn't go in and check the magnets you wouldn't have had a true picture of the swell size.