Fun waves at exposed beaches

Ben Matson picture
Ben Matson (thermalben)

South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales Surf Forecast by Ben Matson (issued Wednesday 24th December)

Best Days: Thurs PM onwards: steady supply of small but workable E'ly swell across all regions (you'll just have to work around local winds). Sat/Sun: punchy local SE swell across Mid North/Northern NSW, but with dodgy winds (ie protected spots only). 

Recap: Small waves, onshore winds. Same as it ever was.

This week (Dec 25 - 26)

Christmas Day looks OK for an average afternoon session. 

We’re likely to see Thursday morning begin with similarly small surf as per the last few days, but a new pulse of trade swell is excepted through the middle of the day that should building nicely through the afternoon.

This energy will be the beginning of an extended period of small, long range east swell generated by a broad belt of stationary trades located north and north-east of New Zealand since last weekend (and which has been discussed since Monday last week, some nine days ago).

Set waves will be inconsistent from this source, and winds are expected to freshen from the NE during the afternoon - stronger in the south (i.e. Mid North Coast) compared to the Far North NSW and SE Qld coasts - so expect below average conditions for the late session. 

But for my money, that’s where you’ll be best placing yourself in the water on Christmas Day - a late arvo paddle at your favourite swell magnet, preferably one that can handle a nor’easter. 

Friday - Boxing Day - has a little more promise, especially in the south. An approaching southerly change (not expected to push north of Seal Rocks until late afternoon) will disrupt the broader northerly airstream, probably swinging north-west at some coasts and maybe even creating variable winds across the Mid North Coast, even parts of the North Coast if we're lucky (but unlikely to affect SE Qld). 

This should assist in improving surface conditions across open beaches, and with Thursday’s intermittent trade swell providing fun, if somewhat inconsistent waves at swell magnets in the 2-3ft range, there should be a few options about - just aim for a northern corner if you have one at your disposal. And expect long breaks between the sets.

This weekend (Dec 27 - 28)

There’s been some minor changes in the latest model guidance, which has had a significant effect on the weekend outlook for SE Qld (but less so for the Mid North and North Coasts). 

A ridge developing in the wake of Friday’s late southerly change is now expected to stall across the Mid North Coast; the upshot is that it may end up being positioned just a little too far south of SE Qld’s swell window to be of any great benefit. Most models are in good agreement with this so it’s fair to have a reasonable amount of confidence in the current outlook. 

So, what this means is that SE Qld will probably see a mix of trade swell from our previously discussed distant source, as well as a small level of energy spread from the North Coast ridge, probably 2-3ft at exposed beaches both days. The wind forecast is tricky at the moment but Saturday is currently on target to be light and variable, with slowly freshening onshores in the afternoon that are modelled to persist through Sunday (without any great strength though).

The Northern NSW coast will see an equal amount of pulsey, inconsistent E’ly swell from the distant source, but the short range source (from the ridge) will create bigger waves with increasing southerly latitude: biggest wave heights are currently forecast to be between Seal Rocks and Port Macquarie (choppy 4-5ft+), with smaller surf from Coffs to Byron.

However fresh to strong SE winds will render exposed beach generally unrideable in the south, so only protected locations or point breaks will be surfable. Further north, winds will ease in strength which may open up a few options although wave heights will be smaller here.

All in all it’s still a little wishy washy on the specifics, but at least there won’t be any shortage of swell. I’ll fine tune the weekend outlook on Friday.

Next week (Dec 29 onwards)

Still nothing significant on the long term radar, unless we see the weekend’s coastal ridge evolve into a more prominent system over the coming days - which is certainly possible. I’ll update on Friday (this would affect the swell potential for Monday, which will otherwise see easing swells as the ridge breaks down).

Otherwise, we’re looking at a steady supply of small, intermittent E/NE swell from our distant South Pacific source. Tropical Depression TD03F is currently located near the Cook Islands and may develop into a Cat 1 cyclone over the coming days, but right now it’s viewed as being too small and too far away to generate any notable swell for us. This region will remain an active source for Tropical Depressions over the coming week but there’s no suggestion right now that they’ll benefit Australia’s surf potential.

Elsewhere, a strong frontal passage is expected through the southern Tasman Sea around Tuesday, which should give rise to a solid mid-week south swell for exposed south facing beaches in Northern NSW. In fact this looks like being a reasonably strong Long Wave Trough passage, which should assist in drawing out the length of swell activity from this source (i.e. instead of a one day swell, perhaps two or more days if we’re lucky). 

Have a Merry Christmas - see you on Friday!


wellymon's picture
wellymon's picture
wellymon Thursday, 25 Dec 2014 at 1:02pm

Another well documented surf report again for 2014.
A great read as always.