South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast (issued Wednesday 12th March)

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thermalben started the topic in Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 1:01pm

South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 12th March)

Best Days: Thurs/Fri: quality trade swell. Sun/Mon: Solid E'ly swell but with varibale conditions (best up north on Saturday, and down south o Sunday). Mon: easing E'ly swell with generally good conditions.

Recap: Strong trade swell with excellent waves across the points in SE Qld/Northern NSW, and great beachies across the Mid North with lighter morning winds. 

This week (Mar 13-14)

No major changes for the rest of the week. The existing trade swell will ease every so slightly through Thursday morning, ahead of a slight pulse through the afternoon and into Friday that'll maintain great waves in most areas. 

The only exception is the Lower Mid North Coast who'll see freshening NE winds on Friday as a change approaches from the west - but we should be somewhat free of this influence on the North Coast (say north of about Coffs) and into SE Qld, where winds will be more E/SE. This will again favour the points for the best waves, as has been the case all week.

This weekend (Mar 15-16)

Long period groundswells aren't a common feature of this region, so the weekend's swell is shaping up to be one of the more interesting events of the year. Unfortunately local winds will spoil proceedings across some coasts.

As has been detailed since last Friday, we've got a broad area of near-stationary trades across the southern Coral Sea, extending into the South Pacific, along with TC Lusi (currently a Cat 2 cyclone, may reach Cat 3 later today).

However model guidance has slightly sped up the southward track of TC Lusi over the coming days, and also made a minor adjustment to its core alignment and primary fetches (marginally more meridional than zonal, i.e. more north-south than east-west). 

This has slightly downgraded the size potential, and also adjusted the timing of the swell. We're looking at a fairly strong increase in groundswell on Saturday morning that'll persist through Sunday, and exposed locations should see set waves pushing the 4-6ft range, with smaller surf on protected points.

I still think we'll see bigger waves than this (upwards of 6ft, and maybe 8ft) at some of Northern NSW's more reliable swell magnets, but on the whole I've slightly pulled back on size estimations from this event. However, the slight size downgrade is vastly compensated for by the expected strength of the swell, which will be far stronger than what we've seen all week. So keep this in mind as swells with these characteristics usually overpower the beachbreaks very easily, and are much more suited to the points.

All this is well and good, but local winds are going to create some problems at times. Let's start up north to begin with - the SE Qld and Northern NSW should do very well on Saturday with generally light winds and an afternoon sea breeze (without much strength) however freshening NW tending N'ly winds on Sunday will wipe out surf prospects across the points, and (as per the comment above) I think many beachbreaks probably won't handle a swell of this size and period.

As for the Mid North Coast, we are likely to see the reverse surf prospects. Saturday is expecting freshening nor'easters and that won't work for many spots - but Sunday should deliver much better conditions as we see morning nor'westers ahead of a possible shallow southerly change late in the day.

So in brief - and yes, there'll certainly be local exceptions to this guideline - aim for a Saturday surf up north, or a Sunday surf down south.

Next week (Mar 17 onwards)

It's hard to get a gauge on Monday's surf potential right now, due to some slightly conflicting model guidance. Still, I think theres a better-than-average chance we'll see light variable winds in the morning, along with a steadily easing east swell (say, 3-5ft exposed beaches early, smaller later).

Looking further ahead, and although we're still on target for some south swell mid week, the models have altered its alignment - amplifying the associated upper trough west of Tasmania. This is now expected to focus the main storm track into SA and Vic rather than into Tasmania, which has consequently downgraded the size potential from this source.

Elsewhere, we're expecting the Tropical South Pacific to fire up later this weekend and into early next week with some a strong, stationary E'ly fetch way out east of the dateline (and likely to merge with yet another Tropical Cyclone NE of Fiji). Despite the enormous distance from the mainland, this is likely to supply small to moderate, and ultimately persistent E'ly swells later next week and into the following weekend, that'll be very useful in the event that our immediate swell windows sees an extended period of quietness next week. More on this in Friday's notes.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 7:07pm

I like the downgrade. it puts a few exposed magnets with northerly protection into the frame for the once a year G-land special

merkin's picture
merkin's picture
merkin commented Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 8:16pm

I've forgotten how to go left :-(

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 9:24pm

I got a couple of lefts out front of Main Beach Noosa this evening. Take-off, one pump bottom turn to reo on the close-out but I did travel left! Have to try harder Merkin, haha.

dromodreamer05's picture
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dromodreamer05 commented Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 10:06pm

Hi can any of the weather guys please tell me what a groundswell like this will do for agnes region cheers

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 at 10:12pm

This swell will struggle to offer any significant size in Agnes, I'd say an inconsistent 2ft to possibly 3ft at the most exposed spots, probably 2ft or so in town on the points.

Agnes really needs close-range swells to get any major size, ie a strong stationary ridge and trade-flow through the Western Coral Sea, as longer-range energy loses too much size from the shadowing effects of Fraser Island and other offshore reefs.

Also E/NE swells get in a lot better than E'ly or E/SE swells as this swell will be.

donweather's picture
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donweather commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 1:37pm

Gee, I tell ya what, latest GFS (18z) and EC (12z) runs have TC Lusi bombing overnight tonight and a twist of retrograde!!! If this comes to fruition, I reckon the forecasts for Saturday arvo/Sunday morning are currently undercooked (6ft).

palmymick's picture
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palmymick commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 2:07pm

Don, I surfed a southern Goldy beachie this morning, there is definitely some push in the swell. Big waits between sets (which was good for my girl arms) with nice 3 footers coming through, then a 6-8 wave set with some 5'+ one in there to get the blood pumping.
It seemed to be pulsing on that last bit of the incoming tide.
Wind is into now and the dropping tide seems to have dropped the sets size a bit.
All looks interesting for the weekend...points only?

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 2:13pm

A little strange to hear of 5ft sets on the Goldy this morning... this morning is the smallest it's been at Noosa all week - and normally under these trade swells the Sunny Coast picks up a little more size than the Gold Coast. Just one of those local abberations I suppose.

I've seen the slight model shift Don but I'm holding steady with 6ft sets until we see a few more model runs. The southward track is a little too fast for my liking, and I fear this will cap the size of the swell (that being said, a 6ft groundswell is still bloody big for SE Qld!).

palmymick's picture
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palmymick commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 2:20pm

Yeah Ben that's what I thought when I saw footage of the waves at Snapper this morning, lot smaller down there and with the easterly direction I didn't there would be that much difference.
Like I mentioned, might have been pulsing on that incoming tide?

braithy's picture
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braithy commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 3:13pm

I only surfed for an hour at a river mouth near my house Ben, and there was barely anything under 5ft in an hour.

Might have just been a strong pulse on the last bit of incoming tide, but boy-o ... it had some poke in it.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 3:53pm

Different people call the same surf different numbers as well......so there's always that bias to contend with.

palmymick's picture
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palmymick commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 4:21pm

yeah definitely not Hawaiian 5' Freeride but some of the set waves were pretty much double overhead (I am a short bastard tho)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Thursday, 13 Mar 2014 at 4:30pm

hahah, fair enough.