Thursday is still the pick of the forecast period

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 9th June)

Best Days: Thurs: solid SE groundswell in the south (smaller in the north, esp SE Qld) with offshore winds. Fri: fun, easing swell with good winds (only small in SE Qld). Sat: small fun waves across most open beaches with good winds.

Recap: Small fun waves at exposed beaches in Northern NSW yesterday, with light variable winds. Tiny on the Gold Coast. Smaller across the board today, with light offshore winds tending fresh N’ly this afternoon.

This week (July 10-11)

The forecast models have danced around a little over the last few days with this impending SE groundswell - upgrading slightly from Monday to Tuesday, then downgrading again overnight before re-upgrading in the latest 00Z run that went live around 4:30pm. All of which can make it a little confusing if you haven’t been following these forecast notes since last Wednesday.

Nevertheless, satellite obs on Tuesday confirmed what the models were predicting - a broad swathe of 40-50kt winds off the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island, aimed squarely at the NSW South Coast. The leading edge of this swell is due to reach the coast this evening and by Thursday morning should be close to fifth gear in the surf zone.

However, this swell is aimed away from the Northern NSW coast so we’re looking at progressively smaller wave heights as we track north from Seal Rocks through the Mid North Coast, North Coast and then into Southeast Queensland.

Obviously, picking the exact size thresholds for each coast is a little difficult - especially with regional swell magnets likely to contradict the broad estimate - but as a general rule of thumb, it’ll be considerably smaller in the north compared to the south.

Also, a secondary E’ly fetch stretching NE of New Zealand - just outside the swell shadow of the North Island - will contribute some background energy through the end of the week, holding into the weekend (just to add a little more complexity to the forecast).

As such, I’m going to hold steady with my size predictions, that is for Mid North Coast to peak somewhere in the 4-5ft range on Thursday, with a few bigger 6ft bombs likely south of about Forster. North of Coffs Harbour, I suspect wave heights will taper off to 3-4ft through to about the Tweed Coast, with smaller, inconsistent surf in the 2ft range for most Gold and Sunshine Coast beaches (maybe a few bigger 3ft waves at exposed south facing beaches north of the border). 

Thursday’s swell is expected to reach a peak before lunchtime, and will trend downwards throughout the afternoon - not by a great deal - however it may become a little less consistent. Conditions should be clean right across the beaches with a gusty W’ly change arriving in the morning across most regions (NW winds prior to this). However, many of the regional points will struggle with this wind so aim for locations offering a degree of northerly protection. 

Wave heights will ease more steadily through Friday - but will also contain a small percentage of new long range E’ly swell, originating from the secondary fetch NE of NZ, with sets of around 2ft. In addition to this, we’ll also see a building south swell during the day but only across south swell magnets of the Mid North Coast after lunch (possibly the Far North Coast close to dusk if we’re super lucky). 

This new south swell will have originated from a strong frontal passage through Bass Strait on Thursday, of which its flukey source has been ramped up a smidge in the latest model runs. Exposed south facing beaches in the south should pick up some 3ft+ sets late in the day however it’ll be much smaller early morning, mainly consisting of leftover SE swell from Thursday.  

So in short, expect a small peaky swell combo across exposed beaches on Friday. Conditions will be clean moderate W’ly winds. 

This weekend (July 12-13)

Saturday should see a combination of continuing small E’ly swell from our long range source (very inconsistent 2ft sets), as well as a dying S’ly swell across exposed south facing beaches in Northern NSW (this south swell won’t have any impact in SE Qld away from the swell magnets). The south swell will dry up early across the Mid North Coast so get in at dawn if you want to maximise your size potential on Saturday. Again, conditions should be clean with mainly light offshore winds. 

A new front tracking through the lower Tasman Sea early Saturday morning should bring a fresh southerly swell to the exposed south facing beaches throughout Sunday, but unfortunately winds are going to also clock from the SW to the S/SW then S’ly during the morning - and this will deteriorate conditions at these exposed beaches. As such your best options on Sunday will probably be tucked inside sheltered southern corners, making the most of any small residual long range east swell on offer (probably not a lot).

Next week (July 14 onwards)

Nothing significant on the long range charts at this stage. Most model guidance maintains a healthy southerly flow into the lower Tasman Sea over the weekend which should keep south facing beaches in Northern NSW flush with fun, mid-period south swell through Monday and Tuesday.

There’s a few wild speculations in the model runs towards the end of the week and next weekend however they’re all quite divergent and not really worth discussing at length for a few days yet. Let’s check in on Friday to see how everyone did with the southeast swell.. hope you score! 


donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Wednesday, 9 Jul 2014 at 7:03pm

Based on local winds around the border and Goldy this arvo I wouldn't be surprised if the swell at dawn tomorrow is scarred with some N'ly wobble.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 Wednesday, 9 Jul 2014 at 7:16pm

Definitely. Unless that W'ly hits strong before midnight.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Wednesday, 9 Jul 2014 at 7:55pm

In my experience winds tend to remain more NW than forecast particularly north of the border so I'm not confident.

donweather's picture
donweather's picture
donweather Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 at 12:53pm

Looking at the wave buoys and local winds I would imagine just about everywhere is fecking cookin right about now with no sign of the N'ly wobble from this morning!!!

mitchvg's picture
mitchvg's picture
mitchvg Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 at 2:47pm

I'm at padre 76's local and some heavy drop ins are going down.

matt123's picture
matt123's picture
matt123 Thursday, 10 Jul 2014 at 3:26pm

Love me a weekday swell :D no complaints here. Hope it sticks around Tomorrow!