South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Friday 28th February)
Best Days: Entire period - plenty of fun peaky trade swell, best suited to the outer points of SE Qld and Northern NSW.
Recap: Small peaky trade swell across most coasts. Generally SE winds in SE Qld and Northern NSW (lighter, more S/SW early morning), however winds were E’ly in the Mid North and NE in the Lower Mid North Coast on Thursday as a trough moved into the region. Winds are presently variable in these regions but expected to freshen from the E from this evening onwards.
This weekend (Mar 1-2)
No major changes for the weekend forecast. We’re still looking at a slowly building trade swell across most coasts as a ridge rebuilds across the southern Coral Sea, actually linking in with a slow northward-moving trough along the North Coast, which currently extends onshore winds into Southern NSW at the present time.
This broad onshore pattern should provide a more uniform size distribution of trade swell between SE Qld and the lower Mid North Coast (compared to typical summer patterns, where the primary ridge in the Coral Sea creates the biggest waves in SE Qld, and smaller surf with increasing southerly latitude).
However, conditions will be generally average at most locations with moderate to fresh E/SE winds. The SE Qld and Northern NSW points that offer a small degree of protection will fare the best, however we’re really only expecting set waves in the 3ft range by later Saturday and Sunday. This should be ideal for the Quiksilver Pro but otherwise it’s not worth a major road mission if you’re looking to escape the contest hype.
Next week (Mar 1-5)
The good news for SE Qld (and by default, the Quiksilver Pro) is that we’ve got a steady supply of trade swell expected for most of next week. This will maintain wave heights in the 3ft range at open locations most days, with a few small dips here and there as the trade winds ebb and flow.
Locally persistent SE winds associated with this Coral Sea ridge will continue to favour the exposed points in this region, however most of the open coasts in Northern NSW will remain below average (the only opportunities being brief windows of light winds early mornings at a few select locations). So on the whole, this is a pretty standard pattern for this time of year with no major surprises in store.
Just to touch on a few other developments in our distant swell windows that were discussed on Wednesday - the impending Fijian Tropical Cyclone (still just a Tropical Depression) can now be officially written off as a source of major new swell for the Australian East Coast. It’s likely to reach TC strength this evening (and will be subsequently named by the Fiji Met Bureau) however it’s expected to slip away to the southeast, and won’t generate anything notable for us.
Additionally, the TC possibility I mentioned for the Northern Coral Sea now looks to be a certainty early next week, however the Coral Sea ridge will restrict its southward movement into our swell window - so we won’t see any true ‘cyclone swell’ from it.
This (anticipated) cyclone is expected to make landfall in Far Northern Queensland (somewhere in and around the Cairns region) later in the week but the only benefits we’ll see in SE Qld will be a restrengthening of the Coral Sea ridge and a subsequent increase in trade wind swell (maybe 4ft?). However I’m pretty confident that we can rule out this system for anything major in the swell department for SE Qld.
Elsewhere, and a large high in the Tasman will essentially shut down the south swell window for the Northern NSW coast for much of next week. We do have one pulse of energy that may make landfall prior to this though - a very long period south swell (18-19 seconds), that’s expected to glance the coast later Monday and into Tuesday, generated by an intense Southern Ocean low during the middle of this week - which is in fact, the remnants of ex-TC Guito that formed near Madagascar late last week. This long period energy will combine with a later incarnation of the system that’s expected to push up through the south-eastern Tasman Sea over the weekend, adding some mid-period swell into the mix for the first few days of the new week.
However, only south swell magnets in Northern NSW will pick up any size from this source and we’re really only talking about inconsistent 2ft+ waves at these locations. And with moderate to fresh E/SE winds on hand, conditions won’t be great. But if you see the wave buoys light up with long period energy from Monday thru’ Tuesday, you’ll know where it came from.
Long term (Mar 6 onwards)
More trade swell on tap for next weekend but no major swell events at this stage.