Wide variety of incoming swells

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 6th August)

Best Days: Thurs/Fri: fun mix of swells at most beaches. Sat/Sun: strong southerly groundswell (only small in SE Qld). Late Tues/Wed: another strong S'ly swell (again, only small in SE Qld).

Recap: Plenty of good waves on offer over the last few days. SE Qld has enjoyed a combo of peaky short range SE swell and long range (but low/mid period) E’ly swell, whilst Northern NSW has seen an additional S’ly groundswell in the mix. No great size but plenty of options at open beaches and even along the semi-exposed points.

This week (Aug 7-8)

We’ve got a strong long period south swell moving into the North Coast this evening, that reached the southern half of NSW today and punched slightly above its weight (this swell was detected at the Crowdy Head buoy close to dusk). 

As such, the forecast for Thursday has been marginally upgraded, with south facing beaches in Northern NSW likely to see inconsistent 3-5ft sets through Thursday morning before easing into the afternoon. Smaller surf will be on offer at beaches not open to the south, consisting of refracted south swell and some leftover east swell from today. Conditions are looking pretty good in general with light offshore winds tending southerly during the day, but probably without any major strength.

SE Qld is a difficult call for Thursday. Our automated forecast is calling for an increase in east swell from today but I still can’t pin the source to any particular fetch - as described in Monday’s notes, the fetch just east of Fiji from earlier in the week is expected to have largely exhausted its energy at the coast by now, and although there was another decent looking fetch much further to the east (S/SE of Tahiti) on Monday's synoptic charts, I think that it was too far away to generate anything meaningful for the coast (of which any swell probably won't arrive until the weekend).

As such, apart from the long period south swell (which should produce inconsistent 3ft sets at swell magnets), most beaches on the Gold and Sunshine Coast are probably looking at a mix of swells in the 2ft range on Thursday, possibly a little bigger on the Sunny Coast thanks to some trailing SE energy from the Coral Sea fetch (which is slowly retracting northwards, out of our swell window). Again, light winds will favour clean conditions here in the morning ahead of a southerly tendency throughout the day.

Friday looks reasonable across most of the open beaches, although wave heights may start to become a little small in SE Qld by this time. We’re looking at a small reinforcing pulse of secondary southerly swell for Northern NSW’s south facing beaches, and early SW winds are expected to freshen from the south as a weak front slips across the southern part of the state. So, get in early for the best waves and aim for the swell magnets. 

This weekend (Aug 9-10)

The weekend will be dominated by southerly swell, and SE Qld surfers should consider a road trip south of the border as we’re not going to see much size away from the swell magnets. A strong southerly swell is expected to push across the region during Saturday morning - it may not be in the water at first light in the Far North - however it’ll build through the day and should be strongest at all coasts through the afternoon. 

This swell is being generated by a deep Southern Ocean low pressure system tracking SW of Tasmania as we speak, which is expected to push into the southern, then south-eastern Tasman Sea into Thursday morning. Core wind speeds are expected to reach 40-50kts and it’ll be working on an active sea state generated by strong pre-frontal activity. 

Exposed south facing beaches in Northern NSW should see strong 5-6ft+ sets at the height of the swell (through the middle of the day), and even SE Qld’s handful of south swell magnets are likely to pull in occasional 3-4ft+ sets due to the strong period.

However it’ll be very small at most beaches and semi-exposed points north of the border, just a couple of inconsistent feet at best as a result of the poorly aligned storm track and acute southerly swell direction. Winds are looking pretty good in all regions on Saturday, early W/SW tending light to moderate SE throughout the day, but with no great strength.

Also in the water on Saturday will be a small long range E’ly swell generated by the distant fetch way out neat Tahiti earlier this week. However no great size is expected from it.

Saturday’s south swell will then ease steadily through Sunday (with the small distant E’ly swell running underneath), whilst similar local winds maintain favourable conditions across the region.

So in short - expect a mix of small swells in SE Qld away from the swell magnets, and solid southerly swell in Northern NSW. Well worth your attention either day. 

Longer term (Aug 11 onwards)

Another strong front/low combo is expected to track through the Southern Ocean and up into the lower Tasman Sea over the weekend, bringing a strong southerly groundswell to the region sometime later Tuesday, holding through Wednesday. More on this in Friday’s updated notes. 


mitchvg's picture
mitchvg's picture
mitchvg Thursday, 7 Aug 2014 at 12:11pm

Very impressive sth groundswell for how quickly it passed by

Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog Thursday, 7 Aug 2014 at 12:23pm

Mitch, 14/8........ Keep your fingers crossed......

Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog's picture
Sheepdog Friday, 8 Aug 2014 at 8:27am

From the 14th onwards, we are going to see a good flow of moisture coming from the east, along with that "permanent" winter inland trough sitting behind the great divide...... The unfortunate thing is no decent upper level infeed from the Timor sea.... However, as that week progresses, thing may take a turn for the better. If we start to see widespread rain around the St george Region of Qld say on the 18th/19th, that will increase the chance of an ECL dramatically....
At least more easterly trade swell is a given, with wind of course......