South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 19th February)
Best Days: Entire period: good waves in SE Qld. Mon/Tues/Wed: strong south swell for exposed spots in Northern NSW.
Recap: Tiny waves with northerly winds on Thursday, ahead of a gusty S’ly change that reached the Mid North Coast in the afternoon and the Far North Coast just before dawn (pushing into SE Qld mid-morning). The wind change is still yet to register on the Sunshine Coast, despite reaching the Gold Coast Seaway around 9:30am and the Banana Bank at 12:30pm, however we should see a swing to the south-east later this afternoon. No major swell increase has occurred behind the change, apart from a small upswing in southerly windswell at exposed beaches on the North Coast.
This weekend (Feb 22-23)
Finally! A return to normality for SE Qld surfers. A ridge is expected to build through the Coral Sea in the wake of today’s southerly change, and it’ll build a trade swell that’ll occupy the region for a few days, supplying a modest round of E/SE swell that’ll deliver fun surf on the points.
No great size is expected however we should see 3-4ft surf at exposed beaches for most of Saturday and much of Sunday, with 2-3ft surf across the more open points. With gusty SE winds the norm (apart from a few isolated pockets of early morning SW winds, such as the Cooly region), the points will definitely be the place to be.
The size of this trade swell will decrease with increasing distance from the Qld/NSW border. However, the good news is that we’ll also see a building S’ly groundswell in the water along the North Coast, generated by a deep low that finally pushed outside of the Tasmanian swell shadow this morning.
Only south facing beaches will see any energy from this source, and only the lower Mid North Coast will pick any new swell on Saturday - and probably late in the day too. It’ll pad out most locations on Sunday with occasional sets in the 3-4ft range however they’ll be rather inconsistent. On the whole, conditions aren’t looking too flash with a general SE airstream (strongest in the north) however locations south of Coffs should see a morning sou’wester so aim for an appropriate beach for the best conditions.
Next week (Feb 24-28)
Plenty of swell for next week. The Coral Sea ridge will weaken slightly through the first half of the week but it’ll be enough to maintain 2-3ft surf across the Gold Coast from Monday thru' Wednesday, possibly a little bigger on the Sunshine Coast (due to its slightly closer proximity to the swell source), but a little smaller on the points. We’re looking at a steady wind regime for this period - mainly moderate SE winds following a period of SW winds in the mornings - so get your point game on. Even the beachies should be OK first up though if you need some variety (and want to escape the hordes).
At the same time we’re expecting a strong southerly groundswell to move along the NSW coast, generated by a powerful series of fronts tracking through the southern Tasman Sea this weekend. Swell from this source probably won’t have much of an impact north of the border (especially with the dominant trade swell in the water) however exposed south swell magnets on the North Coast should see some decent waves as the long period energy makes its presence felt.
Set waves should push between 3ft and occasionally 5ft at swell magnets on Monday, and a secondary pulse - currently due into the lower Mid North Coast late in the day - might nudge the 5-6ft mark at super exposed spots. This swell will trend down slightly through Tuesday and Wednesday but should be a dominant factor for the North Coast throughout much of the middle part of the week.
Just keep in mind that beaches not completely open to the south (ie most of 'em) will see significantly smaller waves, due to the acute southerly swell direction.
Conditions wise (on the North Coast), we’ll see a marked turn from the weekend around as a high dominates the local weather bringing about early offshore winds and afternoon nor’easters. Should be well worth your effort for much of this period.
Long term (Mar 1 onwards)
Looking further ahead, and our south swell window appears to shut down for a few days during the middle of next week, which will probably dry up swell activity from this region through the end of the week. 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 next weekend (only favouring exposed south swell magnets on the North Coast though).
Elsewhere - and more pertinent to SE Queensland, with the Quiksilver Pro beginning next weekend - 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. It’s too far out to pin down specifics right now but I’ll update all of this in more detail on Monday.