South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 26th February)
Best Days: Entire period: fun trade swell, although becoming a little on the small side during Thurs PM/Fri.
Recap: Plenty of peaky trade swell in SE Qld and Northern NSW over the last few days, along with an intermittent south swell across the Mid North and Northern NSW Coasts. Standard fare for this time of year.
This week (Feb 27-28)
No major features for the next few days. The trade flow is weakening slowly through the Coral Sea so we’ll see wave heights taper off a little during Thursday and Friday, but not completely. Should be plenty of fun beachies around, mainly in the mornings.
Wind wise, north of Coffs we’re looking at a light and variable flow in most areas early Thursday morning, tending moderate onshore during the middle of the day and into the afternoon. South of Coffs may see freshening N’ly winds early Thursday but they're likely to ease back in the afternoon.
A fresh SE change will then extend across the broader region throughout Friday morning. This change (tied in with with a restrengthening of the trades) will ultimately build wave heights across all coasts but we won’t see the results of this until Saturday. As such, apart from a brief window of possible light winds Friday morning, expect blown out conditions at most open locations to finish the working week.
This weekend (Mar 1-2)
Just a bog standard weekend of fun, slowly building trade swell and mainly moderate to fresh SE winds in most areas. Size should reach 2-3ft at open locations through later Saturday and Sunday, with smaller waves across the points.
Exposed south facing beaches on the NSW coast may also pick up a small signal of inconsistent southerly swell on Saturday, generated by a strong front tracking south of Tasmania today and into the lower Tasman Sea. Don't expect very much size though (no bigger than the trade swell, and really only showing at swell magnets).
As for conditions, apart from a chance for brief periods of lighter winds in a few areas during the early mornings (mainly south of Coffs, and also around the Cooly region), these winds will restrict the cleanest conditions to the protected spots.
However we’re not expecting a lot of size so apart from the Gold Coast points - which handle these wind/swell combos better than most - you may need to find a compromise between size and quality.
Next week (Mar 1 onwards)
The synoptic chart looks pretty impressive right now. A likely Tropical Cyclone near Fiji within the next day or so, and another possible Tropical Cyclone in the northern Coral Sea mid-next week. And a steady supply of trade swell to boot for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, only the trade swell has any degree of reliability for the current long term forecast. A lack of supporting features around the (expected) Fijian cyclone means that it’s unlikely to be a major swell producer for the Australian East Coast. Most models seem to favour this system tracking south-east due to the presence of a strong ridge to the west and a series of short wave troughs to the south (which are modelled to ‘capture’ the cyclone and drag it away from the region).
The Coral Sea system looks a little more interesting, because it’s expected to spin up in a weak steering environment which will hopefully assist in its structural development. Right now we’re looking at a slow intensification phase from about Monday onwards, well south of the Solomons and west of Vanuatu.
It’s too early to have any confidence on swell potential from this system at this point in time, but in any case I’d be surprised if we saw anything favourable develop within the SE Qld swell window before about Wednesday next week - which give a theoretical arrival time of new swell (if the planets align) around the end of next week at the earliest in SE Qld (say, next Thursday or Friday). Broadly speaking, Northern NSW wouldn't see anything worthwhile unless the system tracked into a more favourable part of the swell window.
Anyway, this is all crystal ball stuff right now because it doesn’t take much of a dynamic change in the model output to significantly alter the TC probability within the Coral Sea. So let’s not get our hopes up in advance.. instead, we should check back on Friday to see if the models are holding steady with these patterns.
Otherwise, we can rest safe in the knowledge that we’ll probably see a slight lift in easterly trade swell throughout next week, possibly reaching the 3-4ft mark by the end of next week and possibly even a little more by the following weekend. More on this on Friday.