Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra Surf Forecast Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 21st February)
Best Days: Sun: might be a brief window of good winds at one or two spots (ie Northern Beaches), with a fun but easing south swell. Mon: pumping south swell with good winds. Tues/Wed: good south swell with winds form the northern quadrant.
Recap: Small peaky waves out of the north-east and east waves on Thursday with generally clean conditions. Tiny clean conditions again this morning, however a small pulse of new south swell has filled in this afternoon, providing occasional 2ft sets at south facing beaches. Unfortunately, winds have gone fresh S/SE so conditions are bumpy at these beaches. There’s a tiny underlying east swell in the mix but it’s not big enough at the protected spots to take advantage of.
This weekend (Feb 22-23)
Looking generally fun over the weekend if you don't mind a few wobbles here and there.
A deep low pressure system that developed close to the Tasmanian South Coast on Wednesday has finally tracked eastwards, out of the Tasmanian swell shadow and into the southern Tasman Sea. A healthy S/SW fetch (30-40kts) wrapping around its western flank is generating a solid new south swell that’s due to build throughout Saturday, reaching a peak late in the day or overnight.
Exposed south facing beaches should pick up solid 3-4ft+ sets by the end of the day, however early SW winds (in some parts, mainly the Northern Beaches) are due to swing moderate S’ly by mid morning, and may become fresh into the afternoon. So conditions won’t be great away from the sheltered locations (which will be smaller in size too). Still, there’ll be plenty of push in the swell so a partially sheltered beach should tick a few boxes.
Sunday’s looking reasonably fun for an early surf as we’ll have plenty of south swell in the water (3-4ft south facing beaches) ahead of a slight easing trend during the day. Again, a few isolated pockets may see an early morning SW breeze (probably just the Northern Beaches) but in general we’re looking at moderate southerly winds. They’ll ease during the day so conditions will improve slowly but on the whole expect some lumps and bumps at most beaches.
Keep an eye out for a very late pulse of new S’ly swell on Sunday evening in Sydney (expected to build Monday) that might deliver a few sneaker sets in the 3-4ft+ range. This swell will hit the South Coast mid-late afternoon so with easing winds there should be some good options at exposed spots down south.
Next week (Feb 24-28)
Monday is looking unreal. We’ve got a strong secondary front expected to push through the lower Tasman Sea on Saturday, and as it’ll be working on the pre-existing sea state generated by the current low, it’ll generate a slightly bigger/better swell than what we’d typically expect from a solitary weather system.
This swell looks like it’ll be more sustained too, showing for most of Monday in the 3-5ft range at south facing beaches ahead of an afternoon pulse (earlier on the South Coast) that should deliver some rogue 6ft+ bombs at exposed swell magnets and offshore bombies. Beaches not open to the south will be smaller (say, 2-3ft in general) however conditions will be nice and clean with light W/NW winds ahead of an afternoon nor’easter.
Yet another pulse of fresh south swell is due to push through on Tuesday, generated by a trailing front within the overall progression. This should maintain clean 3-4ft+ surf at south facing beaches with early NW winds trending N’ly then NE throughout the day.
A final pulse of slightly smaller south swell (2-3ft) is then excepted to fill in on Wednesday, and we’ll also see a small NE windswell in the mix as well. It looks like the northerly flow will still be in force during this time thanks to a stubborn high in the Tasman Sea, but the early session should offer reasonable conditions, especially at northern corners (which will pick up the most size).
Long term (Mar 1 onwards)
Looking further ahead, and it appears we’ll see a brief downwards trend through Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and early Friday thanks to a temporary blocking pattern across our south swell window. However, a series of strong fronts are then expected to track up towards Tasmania through the middle of the week, possibly bringing about another round of southerly groundswell from sometime later Friday through next Saturday and Sunday.
As for other swell windows - we’ll be keeping a close eye on some tropical developments near the Solomon Islands over the weekend. A series of small depressions (possibly reaching Tropical Cyclone strength) are expected to track along the monsoon trough, near the eastern perimeter of the Solomons region towards Fiji, and are modelled to consolidate and intensify near Fiji during the middle of the week.
Current expectations are that this could build a new easterly groundswell for the entire East Coast (mainly up north though) around the end of next weekend or early in the following week (convenient timing for the Quiksilver Pro too, which starts next weekend). It’s too far out to pin down specifics right now but I’ll update all of this in more detail on Monday.
Monday is looking unreal.
maybe not ? if these maps are accurate...
The synoptic didn't look too good either.
Light winds and a solid south swell. Still looks unreal to me.
I'll take your word for it Ben, the maps show small swell around Sydney but the coastal forecast is still saying up to 2.5m, so the BOM can't make up its mind!
It's all in the period BB. However it'll also be very south in direction so there'll be a large range in wave heights between exposed beaches and everywhere else.
Nice remix of the MHL site http://new.mhl.nsw.gov.au/data/realtime/wave/latest.php
........and presumably quite a few kilometres of closed out beach breaks Ben. Most Sydney beaches hate those long period straight south swells but I'll be up early anyway.
Agreed. Sydney wouldn't be my first choice if I had the time to drive ahem, south. Still, it's been a pretty crappy summer so in context a long period swell of any description is very welcome around here.
You obviously haven't lived in Sydney long enough to know what a really bad summer is like! There were waves of some sort most days, short period and chopped up, but they were there. In a strong El Niño it can go flat for months.
I know where I would be heading, long period South Swell, your car makes them as you drive......?
Hey Ben, if you don't mind are you still confident of your Friday forecast for tomorrow? trying to plan my surf and there seems to be two very different forecasts 1-2 ft south facing vs 2-3 foot?
thanks in advance
Not sure where you are Kane, but I've updated my thoughts on things here: https://www.swellnet.com/forums/swellnet-forecast-notes/88181