Lots of wind, lots of surf, but only brief windows of workable options

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

South Australian Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Monday 10th May)

Features of the Forecast (tl;dr)

  • Poor conditions at Victor on Tuesday, though plenty of swell; cleaner but only small on the Mid
  • Improving Wednesday down south as winds become light NE, small on the Mid
  • Extended period of W'lies with cold fronts from Thurs lunch thru' the weekend
  • Plenty of swell during this but average conditions in general


Easing surf on Saturday was accompanied by an early light W’ly breeze before moderate SW winds kicked in through the morning, bumping up the South Coast. The Mid was tiny, however a new swell built to 2ft on Sunday with early light N/NE winds freshening N/NW through the day. Wave heights built at Victor from 3ft to 4-5ft and whilst winds were mainly NW along the South Coast, there was a brief period of W’ly thru’ SW winds. Today has seen strong SW winds across the region and a large choppy mess at Victor, and a small choppy mess on the Mid to 2ft+.

Typical setup at the Bay, Sunday morning

This week (May 11 - 14)

*Today’s Forecaster Notes will be brief as Craig is away*

The next few days look a little tricky.

Tuesday in particular will see poor conditions across the South Coast thanks to a persistent S/SE flow in the wake of today’s change, which is expected to stall across the region under the strong influence of a coastal trough developing off the NSW coast. This is a shame as there’ll be a strong mix of S/SW swells across the Victor region.

Conditions will improve along the Mid Coast as we should see less wind strength here (which may allow for an early light SE breeze, tending S’ly through the day) but surf size will be small and slow, around 2ft. It’ll be rideable across the reefs if you’re keen.

Wave heights will then ease slowly through Wednesday (reaching a low point early Thursday), as the wind swings light NE at Victor and attempts to clean up a couple of days of surface chop and bump. Wednesday may see early 3-5ft sets at Middleton but it’ll probably be down to 2-3ft by the afternoon. Expect smaller residual lines along the Mid Coast. 

Freshening NW winds and temporarily small surf at Victor on Thursday morning will precede a gusty SW change during the day, associated with the first in a series of strong fronts push across the region, tied in with an amplifying Long Wave Trough. 

Friday is therefore expected to see bumpy conditions under moderate to fresh SW winds - not enough for a stormy in the gulf - but enough to chop up a decent groundswell in the 2-3ft range along the Mid Coast. Victor should build to 4-5ft at Middleton but it’ll be equally average in quality. 

This weekend (May 15 - 16)

We’ve got a typical winter frontal pattern expected for the weekend, with varying winds from the west on Saturday - probably W/NW through the morning, tending SW into the afternoons - and then S’ly into Sunday as this pattern moves to the east. No major strength is likely as the fronts will be positioned south of the state, but it will be enough to cause problems at exposed spots.

The associated fronts will have generated plenty of swell prior to reaching the coast, though I’m not expecting any major size - probably holding 2-3ft on the Mid both days, and 4-5ft at Middleton, with limited options out of the wind. 

Next week (May 17 onwards)

Conditions are expected to improve rapidly on Monday as a high pressure system moves in from the west, allowing conditions to clean up. The final swell from this frontal sequence would maintain plenty of surf across the Victor stretch (4-5ft sets) but it looks like this swell will be generated on the eastern periphery of our swell window, which means more S/SW in the direction and thus limited size within the gulf (maybe some 1-2ft sets).

Surf size will then ease back through the rest of the week, with light winds maintaining clean conditions. There’ll probably be small peaky waves on the Mid all week for the grommets. 

As for future swell prospects, it looks like the storm track will move a little further north, and become quite zonal into the long term which suggests a series of fun small westerly swells for the Mid Coast region later next week and holding into the weekend. 

More on this in Wednesday’s update.