The East Coast has every swell window open

Craig Brokensha
Swellnet Analysis

Informally, May is the surfers' month here in Australia.

We expect to get a lot of swell, and that's because, on the East Coast at least, all our swell windows are open - to the north, the east, and the south. Late summer north swells are staggered with early winter souths as the seasons overlap.

This week is typical of May; the East Coast has been bombarded by swell, and from many directions.

Today, the East Coast received a large, long-period easterly groundswell generated by an extra-tropical low that developed north of New Zealand on the weekend.

As the surf subsides, we'll receive another dose of large easterly groundswell later this week, followed quickly by an oversized southerly swell. (Interestingly, the coming southerly energy will be created by a redevelopment of the same polar low that generated yesterday's swell in Western Australia.)

There are a few aspects to the coming easterly groundswell.

The first thing to note is the extra-tropical low that generated today's east swell will re-strengthen again this evening, however its new position means northern NSW and south-east Queensland will see the most benefit - the rest of NSW will be shadowed by the North Island of NZ. The new energy won't be as big as today's waves across southern NSW but still strong and powerful when the sets roll in.

The re-intensification of the low will see a more prolonged fetch of storm-force E/SE winds work on an active sea state, north-east of New Zealand. The system will even retrograde slightly, moving back to the west.

With 24 hours of storm-force winds projected towards the East Coast we'll see another large, long-period E/SE groundswell arriving Friday afternoon across northern regions, holding into Saturday morning.

As for size, this will be similar in size to the current swell, pushing to 6-8ft across most open locations with the odd cleanup possible at its peak, easing Saturday afternoon, and then down from 3-5ft Sunday.

Further south, the size is tricky to estimate with Sydney likely to see swell sneaking around the North Island but arriving very late Friday, possibly reaching 3-5ft, but coming in at 4-5ft Saturday morning, then easing steadily.

However, of greater importance to the southern NSW coast, will be the oversized southerly swell which will develop at the same time. Told you there was a bit on, didn't I?

The southerly swell will be the product of an intense Tasman Low, which will project a broadening and strengthening fetch of southerly gales up the whole East Coast through Friday.

The swell will jump rapidly in size on Friday afternoon across the southern NSW region, likely reaching 8-10ft by dark across south-facing beaches, peaking Saturday morning to 10-12ft.

And that's not all...

On Saturday, a secondary, stronger burst of severe-gale S/SE winds on top the active sea state in the Tasman Sea will generate a reinforcing, oversized S/SE groundswell for Sunday, keeping 10-12ft waves hitting regions from about Ulladulla to Newcastle.

Further north we'll see the first pulse of oversized S'ly groundswell coming in around 10-12ft across the Mid North Coast magnets on Saturday morning, arriving a little later further north but in by midday, dropping off temporarily early Sunday ahead of the secondary pulse of S/SE groundswell back up to 10ft+ through the afternoon, easing slowly Monday.

The only issue with the coming south swells will be the local winds, and with the size, options will be severely limited. Strong to gale-force S/SW-S winds are expected Friday afternoon, strong and S/SW Saturday morning, shifting a touch more southerly into the afternoon. Sunday will remain windy with winds possibly tending more SW in select locations through the morning but remaining mostly fresh to strong from the S/SW. Fresh SW tending S winds will play out as the large S/SE groundswell eases Monday, likely cleaner Tuesday morning.

Keep an eye on the regional Forecaster Notes and graphs here:

Click for Swellnet's Northern Beaches Forecast Page
Click for Swellnet's Ballina Forecast Page
Click for Swellnet's Gold Coast Forecast Page

Comments

nick_french's picture
nick_french's picture
nick_french Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 5:10pm

Cloudbreak looks to be the real beneficiary of that south swell, wonder if anyone can get over there !. Quick glance of the forecast looks to be pumping when it arrives.

gsco's picture
gsco's picture
gsco Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 6:28pm

Makes me think back to the Pasha Bulka swell and that epic winter https://www.swellnet.com/news/swellnet-analysis/2017/05/29/ten-years-pas...

Adam Banks's picture
Adam Banks's picture
Adam Banks Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 7:00pm

We could probably do without this oversized south system. All the hero’s will be banging on but most of us know that more harm than good is the general outcome. Hurts our south facing stretches for months.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 8:35pm

Yep, agree. I'm not a fan of big south swells in any case but this will stir things right up.

groovie's picture
groovie's picture
groovie Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 8:11pm

Agree totally Adam. We enjoy the east swells in my region but usually the larger south swells are restricted to a couple of locals & the banks get worked over on the beachies facing south usually causing huge gutters & storm banks outwide of the shoreline! Just what we don't need considering the presence of GWS this time of year, whose numbers are definately increasing. Hopefully the east swell will dominate for the nxt. couple of days.

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Tuesday, 25 May 2021 at 10:08pm

That's a very good point, groovie. We just had a trip up the coast and scored great waves on amazing sand in several name breaks, and these swells can play havoc with the banks. But if you add the gutter-forming potential of these swells and GWS, it's a shit sandwich. Best of luck.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 10:55am

Model downgrade this morning. Still calling 6-8ft for Friday/Sat? I'm not seeing that now based on latest GFS.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 1:05pm

No downgrade from what I see, should be strong 6-8ft.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 1:58pm

from the E swell or S swell?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 2:05pm

East.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 2:41pm

OK.
based on yesterday's surf I'll call solid 6ft sets.

Gunna be academic though as gale force S'lies blow it too smithereens.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 2:44pm

Seeing as last swell pushed above 6ft I expect this to be a little more solid for these reasons.

Positives:

  • On top of a very active sea state
  • Storm-force fetch is longer lived
  • Slight retro-grade
  • Still well in NNSW and SE Qld swell window

Negatives:

  • A touch further away
  • More shadowed for the MNC and SNSW
donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 10:37pm

I’d say it was more than a “touch” further away. Also for me the main fetch looks to be aimed at locations further north from here so that’s why I’m thinking it will come in under Tuesday’s swell heights. But swell period should still be very grunty.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 5:01pm

Agreed.
And destroyed by gale force S’lies.

evosurfer's picture
evosurfer's picture
evosurfer Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 5:32pm

East swells suck at my local point and reef breaks nothing breaks how it should south
swells though are completely different story things come alive. As for the banks they
are so bad it dosent matter if they get blasted you cant surf them at the moment anyway.

Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic Wednesday, 26 May 2021 at 7:06pm

Well where we are it is the opposite.. small to medium trade wind swells with small periods are perfect for the beachies.. ground swells that push periods upto 10 and beyond.. kill the beachies and its points or nothing..
Although saying that today held up very well on the beachies on the dropping tide this morning.... stoked!!

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 6:58am

Is it pretty rare to have 6-8ft of east swell at the same time as 10-12ft south swell? And no matter how strong the winds are, a lot of the NNSW and Gold Coast point breaks should be protected a bit and have very strong cross/offshores right? 

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 8:36am

Not too often Jono, and yeah the Qld points will be fine, just more exposed breaks not quite so.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 8:37am

definitely favours the more protected QLD points.
doubt many, if any, NSW ones will handle it.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 8:40am

There'll be windows there Steve ha.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 8:45am

I very much doubt there will be at the peak of the swell Craig.

maybe either side.

but there's already been a meaningful reduction in sand from Tuesdays E swell.

highly likely Points will be completely stripped by the combination of wind and sea state, let alone swell from this event.

no bathymetry= no surf.

it's Pointbreak 101 yet it seems like we have to learn it anew every year.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 2:09pm

A good ASCAT pass..

Compared to the fetch linked to Tuesday's swell..

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 5:19pm

The new fetch (top image) is some 1000kms further away from us. Or to put it another way, the swell has to travel an additional 30% further than it did from the fetch in the bottom image, which for me is indicating we won't see it as large as we did on Tuesday morning (8ft sets reported at open beaches).

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 2:10pm

More easterly alignment, with that retro-grade and on top an active sea state, I still believe a few select locations could see 10ft sets at the swells peak, but this might be overnight.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 5:21pm

10ft for NNSW/SE QLD? From this eastern swell window? Whoah!!!

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 4:02pm

it's possible but academic.

hard to discern amongst 30 knots plus of S'ly wind and sea state.

gsco's picture
gsco's picture
gsco Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 6:38pm

been some nice waves on Sunny Coast last few days. Getting fully amped for the south swell - hope it materialises and bends in enough.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 7:04pm
Distracted's picture
Distracted's picture
Distracted Friday, 28 May 2021 at 5:40am

After a couple months of east swell ripping all the sand out from the local points, curious to see how much sand this big south swell will put back.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Friday, 28 May 2021 at 6:48am

could be the ol beach buster... probably lots of sweep and current that will effect a lot of beaches that face south..

Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic Friday, 28 May 2021 at 11:32am

to be honest.. it's been an epic week of waves on the beachies here on the GC... sure there were closeouts, but there has been alot of gold to find in between. happy to sit out the weekend chaos on the cooly points.... will be good to watch.. definelty worth a tallie on the point at sunset...